MINNEAPOLIS -- Far out of the playoff picture, the Minnesota Timberwolves want to make it tougher for opposing teams still in contention.
The Bobcats, whose skid follows a team-record, six-game winning streak, entered the day one-half game behind Chicago and Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. Chicago grabbed sole possession of the No. 8 spot with its victory over New Orleans on Saturday, while the Bobcats fell back to 12th place in the conference.
A night after a tough home loss to Houston, the Bobcats fell behind early but made a game of it late against the Wolves, who won for only the third time in 16 tries since losing Al Jefferson for the season with a torn ACL.
The Bobcats apparently paid too much attention to Minnesota's record without its best player.
"This was a game that was more than winnable for us and we came out like we were the defending champs and they were just going to lay down for us," said Gerald Wallace, who led Charlotte with 26 points. "We just overlooked this team and took them for granted. They're still an NBA team regardless of their record and once they get going and the fans get behind them, the goal looks like an ocean to them."
It certainly did in the first half.
Minnesota made 60 percent in the first half while building a 66-51 lead at the break that forced the Bobcats to play catch-up the rest of the way.
"We were making everything in the first half," Wolves coach Kevin McHale said.
Craig Smith had 15 points for the Timberwolves, who had 28 assists and committed only nine turnovers -- one more than their season low.
"We were moving the ball and everyone was making shots and we played great defense," said Foye, who finished with nine points after missing two games with hip and ankle injuries.
After trailing by 16 points, the Bobcats pulled to 92-88 with 8:14 to play. But Carney, who returned after missing two games with a lower abdomen injury, gave the Wolves some breathing room with a 3-pointer followed by a hard dunk. He added another 3 with 2:35 to play to put Minnesota up 102-94.
"I expected us to be a little bit down, but we didn't match Minnesota's energy and that's disappointing," coach Larry Brown said.
Raja Bell scored 21 and D.J. Augustin finished with 18. Augustin started the third quarter in place of Raymond Felton, who briefly left the game with back spams, and scored nine points to help key a 19-10 run.
It just wasn't enough to overcome the first-half hole.
"We're trying to compete for something and then to come out the way we did in the first half, it shows we really don't want it," Wallace said. "We talk about it, but we really don't want it. It showed tonight."
"To come out as flat as we came out for a team that says their trying to play for something is inexcusable," he said.
- Charlotte lost for only the third time when shooting 50 percent or higher.
- Love led the Wolves in scoring for only the third time this season.
- Wolves G Kevin Ollie missed his second consecutive game, tending to a family illness. McHale was unsure of Ollie's return. "I haven't spoken with him since two nights ago," the coach said.
- Wallace has scored more than 20 points 19 times this season.
- Smith has scored in double figures in three of the past four games.