Bobcats Escape From 18-Loss Hole
Charlotte Bobcats sguard Ben Gordon, center, drives and scores past Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah (13) and Carlos Boozer (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, in Chicago. The Bobcats won 91-81. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago — Squandering a healthy lead is nothing new to the Charlotte Bobcats — hanging onto one is.
Kemba Walker had 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Bobcats ended an 18-game losing streak with a 91-81 win over the Chicago Bulls yesterday.
Gerald Henderson added 16 points and reserve Ben Gordon had 15 to help Charlotte snap the second-longest skid in team history. It was the Bobcats’ first win in their last 10 road games.
“We’re a desperate team right now,” Henderson said. “This losing streak has been very tough on us.”
Luol Deng scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Chicago. Carlos Boozer also had a double-double with 19 points and 14 boards.
Charlotte fended off several rallies by the Bulls, who never held a lead, to win for the first time since Nov. 24.
Tied at 65 heading into the fourth quarter, Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap decided to try something different.
“I put the playbook in the freezer and just let our guys go at them,” he said.
Charlotte went on a 10-0 run to pad its lead as boos began raining down from the irritated Bulls faithful, who have endured inconsistency as they await the return of former MVP Derrick Rose, who is recovering from knee surgery.
The Bulls had chipped away at a 12-point deficit in the third quarter, eventually tying the game on Richard Hamilton’s second-chance jumper with 39 seconds left, but Chicago went ice-cold from the field in the fourth, shooting 23.1 percent.
Chicago (16-13) shot 35.1 percent overall and hit just four of 16 3-point attempts.
“You can deal with the shots. Some nights you’re going to shoot better than others,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But the defense and rebounding is not where it needs to be.”
Charlotte led by as many as 21 in the first half Saturday against New Orleans, eventually losing 98-95.
The new year couldn’t come quick enough for Charlotte (8-23), which narrowly avoided posting a 0-16 calendar month for the second time in 2012. The Bobcats went 0-16 in April to end last season on a franchise-worst 23-game losing streak.
The eight wins already surpasses Charlotte’s seven wins all of last season.
Ramon Sessions scored 11 first-half points to give Charlotte a five-point advantage at the break. He finished with 15.
Heat 112, Magic 110 (ot)
Orlando, Fla. — LeBron James had 36 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and Chris Bosh scored 22 points to help Miami slip past Orlando in overtime.
James scored eight points in OT, including two free throws that clinched it with 1.5 seconds remaining. Dwayne Wade, who had 21 points, had a dunk with 6.2 seconds to go to give Miami a four-point lead.
Arron Afflalo scored 28 for the Magic and J.J. Redick added 23, but he committed the turnover that led to Wade’s decisive dunk. Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and set a team record with 29 rebounds as Orlando lost its sixth straight. The previous record was 28 rebounds by Shaquille O’Neal in 1993.
James scored on a driving layup with 1:07 left in the extra period to give Miami a 108-106 lead. He missed a shot from the top of the key, giving Orlando a chance to tie, but Shane Battier stole a cross-court pass from Redick and fed Wade for his late slam.
Spurs 104, Nets 73
San Antonio — Tony Parker had 20 points and San Antonio Spurs held Brooklyn to only five points in the third quarter in a win over the Nets.
Tim Duncan added 15 points and Nando DeColo had 11, while Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner chipped in 10 apiece for San Antonio (25-8), which went 9-0 at home in December.
MarShon Brooks had a season-high 16 points to lead Brooklyn (16-15), which suffered its first loss under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Joe Johnson added 12 points and Brook Lopez had 11, but Deron Williams was held to eight points and one assist.
San Antonio set a franchise low for fewest points by an opponent in a quarter.
Pacers 88, Grizzlies 83
Indianapolis — Paul George had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead Indiana to a win over Memphis.
DJ Augustin had 17 points and six assists, and David West had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers, who have won five of their last six games.
Zach Randolph had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Marc Gasol had 13 points for the Grizzlies, who have dropped three of the last four.
West scored the go ahead three throws with 6:09 to play to give the Pacers a 72-71 lead after they trailed by as much as 10 in the second half.
Rockets 123, Hawks 104
Houston — James Harden had 28 points and Houston rebounded from its worst loss of the season with a win over Atlanta.
The Rockets were coming off a 30-point defeat by Oklahoma City and had allowed at least 120 points in their last two games — both losses. They used a 16-0 run in the second quarter to build a big lead and hold on for the win.
Lou Williams had 21 points for the Hawks, whose winning streak ended at four games.
Thunder 114, Suns 96
Oklahoma City — Kevin Durant scored 30 points, Russell Westbrook returned from a cut above his eye to finish with 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Oklahoma City beat Phoenix.
Oklahoma City extended its home-court winning streak to 12 games — longest in the NBA — and won on New Year’s Eve for the fifth straight year since the franchise moved from Seattle. The Thunder closed 2012 by winning 15 of their last 17 games.
Luis Scola scored 24 points to lead Phoenix, which dropped its sixth straight game and fell to the Thunder for the seventh straight time. The Suns haven’t beaten Oklahoma City since December 19, 2010.