Bobcats 83, Heat 78
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)
The Charlotte Bobcats keep finding new ways to beat the Miami Heat, and that just might end up deciding which team goes to the playoffs.
That prospect left Dwyane Wade fuming after the Heat's second-half offensive meltdown.
Thanks to D.J. Augustin's big fourth quarter, Raymond Felton's steady play and Wade's shooting woes, the Bobcats earned their third straight win over Miami, 83-78 on Tuesday night to further crowd the Eastern Conference playoff race.
With Chicago (31-32) losing later to Utah, the Bobcats (31-31) moved into seventh place in the East with one fewer loss than the Heat (32-32), who managed 30 points in the second half and 12 in the fourth quarter.
``The ball didn't go in the basket the same,'' Wade said when asked about the second half, when he shot 3 for 11. ``I ain't giving Charlotte no credit if that's what you're looking for.''
Wade scored 27 points, but clanged a tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds for the Heat, who blew a 15-point lead and had their three-game winning streak snapped.
``He can say whatever he wants to say,'' said Charlotte's Gerald Wallace, who grabbed 17 rebounds. ``We're over here as a team, we know what we did. He says he doesn't credit us. He had what, 17 in the first half? How many did he have in the second half?''
The Bobcats used what they felt were derogatory comments directed their way by Miami's Michael Beasley in the last meeting as motivation in a 39-point rout, Miami's worst loss of the season.
Charlotte rallied from 19 down to win in Miami in the first matchup. The 3-0 mark clinches the season series and potential tiebreaker.
``It felt like a playoff game, honestly,'' said Felton, who had 15 points and 11 assists. ``It was a big win for us.''
Down by 13 midway through the third quarter and 72-63 early in the fourth, the Bobcats stormed back behind Augustin. Getting more playing time after Flip Murray was traded last month, Augustin had a four-point play and four free throws in an 8-0 run.
After three failed chances with the ball down a point, Felton drained a 3-pointer with 3:32 left to give Charlotte its first lead since 6-4.
Trailing 80-78 in the final minute, Miami forced a shot clock violation and Wade then got the ball at the top of the circle. He whipped a pass into the corner for Udonis Haslem, who missed a baseline jumper.
Felton then hit just 1-of-2 free throws with 7.2 seconds left, giving Miami another chance. But Wade's 3 in the left corner bounced off the rim.
``That's a tough one for us to handle, being in control most of the game,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``We showed up ready for the fight and we did not close the game well at all, certainly not offensively.''
It left a rare, big crowd for an early midweek game in Charlotte celebrating, including owner-to-be Michael Jordan. Attending his fourth straight game since agreeing to buy the club, Jordan grinned and slapped some high-fives after Charlotte improved to 23-8 at home.
``I wouldn't want to come to a game and support a team that hasn't been winning, that's been one of the worst teams in the league,'' said Stephen Jackson, who scored 17 points. ``Now we've got a chance to bounce back and get to the playoffs. ... They're coming and supporting us, so we can't fall short.''
Augustin and Felton, who had a season high in assists, took advantage of Miami's thin backcourt.
Carlos Arroyo again started at point guard, while Spoelstra said before the game the team still hadn't heard from Rafer Alston outside text messaging after he abruptly left the team and was suspended.
Spoelstra wouldn't say if Alston will be released, but said the Heat are ``moving forward with the guys we have in this locker room.''
That group raced to a 42-27 lead. But the Heat shot 33 percent in the second half. Whether that was the Bobcats' defense or poor execution was a point of contention.
``If he doesn't want to give us any credit, that's his opinion,'' Felton said of Wade. ``We won the game.''
NOTES: Bobcats coach Larry Brown denied an SI.com report that he inquired about the Clippers' coaching job while concerned Jordan's ownership bid might fail. Asked if he was committed to Charlotte long-term, Brown replied, ``It's up to Michael.'' ... Brown said he hasn't talked with Allen Iverson, who left the 76ers amid reports of personal problems, in three weeks. ``I'm concerned he's not in the league. I'm concerned his wife filed for divorce,'' Brown said. ... Spoelstra said he immediately thought of Hank Gathers when he watched Detroit's Rodney Stuckey collapse last week. ``I shuddered and it immediately brought back many horrible memories,'' said Spoelstra, who played in the game Gathers collapsed and died in 20 years ago.