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Atlanta at Charlotte

Bobcats avoid losing season for first time in six-year existence

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Not only have the Charlotte Bobcats never made the playoffs, they've also never had a player record a triple-double.

The six-year-old franchise moved closer to that elusive postseason berth on Tuesday night, even if they fumbled Boris Diaw's chances of accomplishing the latter.

Gerald Wallace scored 28 points, Diaw finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and the Bobcats ensured their first non-losing season with a 109-100 victory over the banged-up Atlanta Hawks.

Eastern Conference
SeedTeamGB
1x-Atlanta-
2x-Boston-
3x-Brooklyn-
4x-Chicago-
5o-Charlotte-
6o-Cleveland-
7o-Detroit-
8y-Indiana-
Still alive
9z-Miami-
10x-Milwaukee-
11y-New York-
Eliminated
12o-Orlando-
13o-Philadelphia-
14o-Toronto-
15o-Washington-
Complete Playoff Race

As the Bobcats (41-36) can finish no worse than .500, it led to a jovial atmosphere in the locker room as they argued over who was responsible for Diaw missing out.

Was it Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton or Derrick Brown?

"He had a rebound and Gerald took it. We had just told Gerald," coach Larry Brown said, smiling. "Then we ran a play for him and Jack curled and had a six-footer and missed it. Then I took everybody out and Derrick had a layup."

Wallace had his own take.

"If I hadn't went for that rebound, he would have been, 'Rebound!"' he said of Brown. "No, I didn't know about the rebound. I knew about the assist and Jack and Ray stunk that up."

While Charlotte saw its magic number to clinch a playoff berth sliced to two after Chicago lost to Milwaukee, the Hawks remained a game ahead of Boston in the race for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference after the Celtics lost in New York.

But Atlanta's hopes of reaching 50 wins for the first time in 12 years were squashed as it fell behind by 20 points after the first quarter with plenty of different faces on the floor.

Maurice Evans scored 20 points, while Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith added 18 apiece for the Hawks, who played without top scorer Joe Johnson (sprained thumb) and point guard Mike Bibby (ingrown toenail).

"I think we were all a little tense at the beginning," said Al Horford, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Bobcats took advantage, building leads of 34-14 after the first quarter and 59-36 at halftime behind Wallace, who had 22 points at the break.

"It felt good because we didn't have to work too hard tonight," said Jackson, who added 15 points despite a variety of injuries. "We didn't have to play for the whole fourth quarter."

Atlanta got within nine on several occasions in the fourth, but Wallace and Diaw were there to end the Hawks' comeback hopes as Charlotte split the season series in a possible first-round playoff preview.

Only the Hawks hope this is nothing like they'll look like in the postseason.

Johnson, averaging 21.2 points, didn't travel and will miss his third straight game Wednesday in Detroit after first being injured last week. Bibby, who had an ingrown toenail removed on Monday, was scratched after experiencing too much pain at the morning shootaround.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson wanted to keep Crawford in his sixth-man role, so Evans started for Johnson and rookie Jeff Teague for Bibby.

Neither were impressive early. Teague struggled running the offense and the Bobcats went at Evans defensively. But the biggest problem was that nobody could guard Wallace.

He kept getting easy baskets inside and in transition, scoring 14 points in the first quarter. Smith picked up his third foul on the first of Wallace's two three-point plays to close the half.

Crawford started the second half, while Teague, in his second pro start, missed his first seven shots as the Hawks lost their fifth straight on the road.

"After the first quarter, I thought we competed very, very well," Crawford said.

Jackson shot 5 of 9 for Charlotte despite a painful hamstring injury that kept him out of the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to Chicago. It helped the Bobcats improve to 30-9 at home as owner Michael Jordan took in the game from his front-row seat.

Only Jordan just missed seeing a triple-double, something he accomplished 30 times.

"Boris," Wallace said, looking into a TV camera, "I apologize."

Notes

  • Woodson said Johnson was feeling better and could return Friday against Toronto.
  • Bibby was soaking his foot before the game and said a doctor removed half of his left big toenail on Monday. "He said it was almost infected, so he had to cut it out," said Bibby, who added he hoped to play Wednesday in Detroit.
  • Bobcats C Theo Ratliff started, but will miss Wednesday's game in New Orleans to attend his grandmother's funeral.
  • Bobcats F Tyrus Thomas dislocated his left thumb late in the game, but returned to the bench and said he'd play Wednesday.
  • Hawks C Zaza Pachulia (hip flexor) sat out the second half.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Gerald Wallace finishes with 28 points as the Bobcats move closer to their first playoff berth.  (AP)
Gerald Wallace finishes with 28 points as the Bobcats move closer to their first playoff berth. (AP)

Scoreboard
Atlanta (49-28) 14223628100
Charlotte (41-36) «34252525109
ATL:M. Evans 20 Pts
ATL:A. Horford 12 Reb
ATL:J. Teague 6 Ast
CHA:G. Wallace 28 Pts
CHA:B. Diaw 9 Reb
CHA:B. Diaw 9 Ast
Players of the Game
CharlotteAtlanta

G. Wallace

A. Horford
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
286116123
Atlanta
A. Horford, C397-142-2123416
J. Smith, SF379-150-052418
M. Evans, SF368-150-040420
M. Williams, PF231-44-43446
J. Teague, PG223-102-23629
J. Crawford, SG396-153-326118
J. Smith, PF223-61-22237
M. West, SG121-20-02022
Z. Pachulia, C71-20-01102
R. Morris, C21-10-01002
M. Bibby, PGDid Not Play
J. Collins, CDid Not Play
J. Johnson, SGDid Not Play
Totals 40-8412-13352424100
 47.6%92.3% 
Charlotte
G. Wallace, SF4110-188-861228
B. Diaw, PF375-127-899517
S. Jackson, SF365-123-444115
R. Felton, PG356-100-106114
T. Ratliff, C170-20-03120
T. Chandler, C313-46-781212
L. Hughes, SG171-40-00312
D. Augustin, PG134-40-000211
T. Thomas, PF122-54-43028
S. Graham, SF21-10-00002
A. Ajinca, CDid Not Play
D. Brown, SFDid Not Play
D. Diop, CDid Not Play
G. Henderson, SGDid Not Play
N. Mohammed, CDid Not Play
Totals 37-7228-32332518109
 51.4%87.5% 
Other Games
Tor 101 Final
Cle 113
Det 124 Final
Phi 103
GS 94 Final
Wash 112
Bos 101 Final
NY 104
Mil 79 Final
Chi 74
Hou 113 Final
Mem 103
OKC 139 Final
Utah 140
SA 95 Final
Sac 86