Three months into 2007-08, Richardson’s Bobcats appear to be on their way to their fourth straight losing season, while the Warriors haven’t missed a beat.
Richardson returns to Oracle Arena to face his former team for the first time since the trade when the Bobcats visit the Warriors on Friday.
Golden State selected Richardson with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 draft. The 6-foot-6 guard out of Michigan State spent the first six seasons of his career with the Warriors, leading them in scoring for three of those.
The Warriors, however, fared well while Richardson was sidelined with a hand injury last season, and decided to deal his big contract to Charlotte on draft night in exchange for eighth overall pick Brandan Wright.
The trade appears to have been the right choice for Golden State (28-19), which has continued to thrive in its first season without Richardson. It’s near the top of the league in scoring at 109.3 points per game.
Charlotte (18-28), meanwhile, is scoring just 95.3 points per contest despite its commitment to an up-tempo offense similar to the one employed by Golden State. Richardson is averaging 20.1 points and shooting a career-best 41.8 percent from 3-point range, but the Bobcats have lost five of their last eight and 24 of 36 since their franchise-best 6-4 start.
Without a dramatic turnaround, Charlotte will finish with a losing record for the fourth straight season since the franchise began play in 2004-05.
Getting back on track could be especially challenging against the Warriors, who are coming off a 116-103 victory over New Orleans that snapped the Hornets’ nine-game win streak Wednesday. Golden State shot 52.3 percent from the field and made 13 of its 27 3-point attempts.
“When we have all our guys on one page and we’re hitting shots like that it feels good because we know we’re definitely hard to beat that way,” forward Stephen Jackson said.
The Warriors have won eight of 11 overall and are 13-4 at home since their 0-4 start there. The Bobcats are winless in three all-time visits to Oracle Arena, although they salvaged a split of last season’s series with a 98-90 home victory Feb. 3.
Charlotte is coming off a 105-91 defeat at Sacramento on Wednesday. The Bobcats missed 12 of 28 free throws and are shooting 68.6 percent (72-for-105) from the line in their last four games.
“I had a feeling it was going to be a long night when we missed a few (free throws) early,” Charlotte coach Sam Vincent said. “For us to win games, key areas all need to click together. We have been hitting them, but missing that many is just giving up points.”
The Bobcats hope to get a little help from Earl Boykins, who they signed Thursday. The 5-foot-5 Boykins, the second-shortest player in NBA history, has been out of the league since he decided last summer not to exercise the $3 million player option on his contract with Milwaukee.
The Warriors also made a high-profile free agent signing this week, adding five-time All-Star Chris Webber on Tuesday. Webber, though, isn’t expected to play Friday.