Venue: Time Warner Cable Arena
The Charlotte Bobcats emerge from the All-Star break knowing they could soon have a new owner, as well as their first playoff berth.
The Bobcats look for their 11th win in 13 home games Tuesday night when they face the league-worst New Jersey Nets, losers of 15 in a row on the road.
Charlotte (26-25) is sixth in the Eastern Conference, in position to reach the playoffs for the first time in their six-year history after falling four games shy in 2008-09.
By the time the Bobcats find out if they will be in the postseason, they also may have a new owner. Bob Johnson is expected to sell the franchise after becoming the first black majority owner of a major professional sports team when he paid $300 million for the expansion franchise. The Bobcats have struggled to sell tickets and sponsorships, and Johnson has lost millions of dollars.
The prospective owner is unknown, and so is the involvement of Michael Jordan, a minority investor who has run the Bobcats' basketball operations since 2006 and has the right of first refusal on any sale.
Though he won't say if Jordan will be buying the team, NBA commissioner David Stern feels a deal is imminent.
"I think that might happen sooner rather than later," he said, "within the next 60 days or so."
While ownership may be clouded, the Bobcats are becoming a strong team at home, going 19-6 - four wins shy of the franchise record set last season.
Nazr Mohammed helped Charlotte enter the All-Star break with a second consecutive victory, scoring 21 points and grabbing a career-high 20 rebounds in Wednesday's 93-92 win at Minnesota. The Bobcats wasted a 21-point second-quarter lead, but Mohammed's dunk with 5.3 seconds left helped secure the win.
"It'd be a huge amount of regret if we'd lost this one," Mohammed said. "We'd have hated to look back and be one game away from making the playoffs ... one game away from the seventh or sixth seed or whatever it may be just because of a game you lost here in February."
One reason Charlotte nearly lost is Gerald Wallace had only five points on 1-of-9 shooting. Wallace, seventh in the league with 10.9 rebounds per game while averaging 18.8 points, became the first Bobcats player to appear in the All-Star game Sunday.
The forward had a career-high 20 boards and 24 points in a 79-68 home win over the Nets (4-48) on Nov. 2. He also grabbed 20 rebounds at New Jersey on Dec. 4, but had 13 points as the Bobcats fell 97-91 and the Nets ended the worst season-opening slide in league history at 18 games.
The Nets are looking to end another skid. Their 15-game road losing streak is their longest in a single season since dropping 20 in a row from Jan. 28-April 13, 1991. They're 1-27 on the road this season.
Overall, New Jersey has dropped eight in a row after falling 97-77 to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Brook Lopez, who had nine points against the Bucks, had 31 points and 14 rebounds in the last meeting with Charlotte. The center leads New Jersey with averages of 18.8 points and 9.0 boards.
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