Bobcats stop 18-game skid
By TRAVIS MILLER
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 on Monday.
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.
It looked to be the same old story for the Bobcats heading into the fourth, but the 10-0 run to start the quarter gave the Bobcats enough momentum to stop a seemingly never-ending losing streak.
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.
“When you go through an entire month without a win, it really eats at you,” Dunlap said. “It’s especially hard for our young guys who need to build confidence.”
Ramon Sessions scored 11 first-half points to give Charlotte a five-point advantage at the break. He finished with 15.
The Bobcats shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half, but struggled from the free throw line, hitting just six of 15 attempts to keep Chicago in the game.
The Bulls began intentionally putting Charlotte on the line in hopes of mounting a comeback, to no avail.
“They weren’t shooting free throws well,” Thibodeau said. “You’re just searching for anything that can get you going.”
The Bobcats finished 21 of 38 from the stripe — worse than mediocre, but enough to get the job done.
Chicago has lost three of its last four.
“We’re in a funk right now, we’ve been up and down this season,” said Taj Gibson, who had eight points and nine rebounds. “Tonight, we let down a lot on defense and we just have to find our way out of it.”
Magic 110 OT
ORLANDO, Fla. — LeBron James had 36 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and Chris Bosh scored 22 points to help the Miami Heat slip past the Orlando Magic 112-110 in overtime Monday.
James scored eight points in overtime, including two free throws that clinched it with 1.5 seconds left. 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 points 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.
Josh McRoberts cut it to two with two seconds to play, but James sealed it at the line.
The first half was a series of momentum swing by both teams, with Miami breaking off a 10-0 run early and Orlando responding with a 12-0 burst in the second quarter. The Magic finished the half on a 21-8 run to take a 54-48 halftime lead.
Late Sunday game
Clippers 107, Jazz 96
LOS ANGELES — Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 107-96 on Sunday night for their 17th consecutive victory, becoming the third team in NBA history to record a perfect month.
The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs and 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated in a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest in the NBA since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago.
Caron Butler led the Clippers with 29 points, making all six of his 3-pointers. Chris Paul added 19 points and nine assists to help them maintain the league’s best record at 25-6.
Al Jefferson scored 30 points — one off his season high — to lead Utah, which lost for the third time during the Clippers’ streak.
Gordon Hayward added 16 points as the Jazz lost their third in a row and seventh in the last nine games.
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