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News » Bobcats-Thunder Preview


Bobcats-Thunder Preview


Bobcats-Thunder Preview
With less than a week left in the regular season, the Charlotte Bobcats still have a chance of clinching the franchise's first playoff berth. Their remaining schedule won't make it easy for them, though.

The Bobcats become the first team in 12 years to close the season with four straight road games when they meet the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

After averaging just over 27 wins its first four seasons in the NBA, Charlotte (35-43) has set a franchise record for victories and is hoping to make the playoffs. The Bobcats trail Chicago and Detroit for the Eastern Conference's final two playoff spots, but closing the gap won't be easy.

Charlotte plays its final four games on the road, where it's lost five of seven and is 12-25 on the season.

While the Bobcats open the trip against a woeful Oklahoma City team that is 21-57 and has lost six in a row at home, the trek gets tougher. Charlotte plays the Bulls on Saturday, New Jersey on Monday and wraps up the regular season at Southeast Division champion Orlando on Wednesday.

Although the Bobcats' chances of making the playoffs are faint, they're not giving up.

"Everybody still has that positive attitude," point guard Raymond Felton said.

Charlotte became the league's first team to conclude the home portion of its schedule with Tuesday's 101-98 win over Philadelphia.

Felton finished with a career-high 32 points and Gerald Wallace scored the go-ahead basket on a put back from a missed shot with 28 seconds left to help the Bobcats recover after blowing a 20-point lead. Squandering leads had been a nasty trend for Charlotte, which had blown fourth-quarter advantages in losing its previous three.

"We figured it out," coach Larry Brown said. "These have been games we've had trouble figuring out."

While Charlotte finally managed to get back in the win column, it may have to play the rest of the season without starting shooting guard Raja Bell (strained right calf). Bell has missed the last two games and Brown does not want to rush him back.

Without Bell, Charlotte looks for Wallace and Felton to continue to carry the offense. Wallace had 21 points and Felton finished with 12 assists in Charlotte's 103-97 victory over the Thunder on Dec. 3.

Oklahoma City lost to Denver 122-112 on Wednesday and has dropped four in a row and seven of eight.

The Thunder, who are being outscored by an average of 18.3 points during their skid, trailed the Nuggets 93-92 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter but could not keep pace with Northwest Division-leading Denver down the stretch.

"They're a great team, a team that could be in the championship this year easily," said Kevin Durant, who finished with 31 points. "So it does give us a lot of confidence."

Durant had 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting - including 3-of-4 from 3-point range - against the Bobcats earlier this season. He's averaging 19.3 points in three career games against them - all losses.

After hosting Charlotte, the Thunder close the regular season with a three-game road trip.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 9, 2009

 

 
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