CLEVELAND: The Charlotte Bobcats are headed back to the NBA play-offs for just the second time in club history after a 96-94 overtime victory over Cleveland yesterday.
Al Jefferson scored seven of his 24 points in the extra period and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds to help Charlotte clinch a post-season spot for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. Kemba Walker scored 20 points and Gerald Henderson added 15 for the Bobcats. Cleveland star Kyrie Irving’s career-high 44 points —to go with eight assists and seven rebounds — was in vain as the Cavaliers’ playoff hopes dimmed even further.
The Cavs trail Atlanta by 3 1/2 games for the eighth and final place in the Eastern Conference with just four games remaining.
Except for Irving’s outstanding performance, both teams struggled on offense, neither managing to shoot 40 percent from the field.
Bobcats center Jefferson said the style of the victory was in keeping with the Bobcats’ determination to transform themselves from a team that went 21-120 over the past two seasons.
Rookie reserve guard Victor Oladipo had 16 points, including 10 in the decisive fourth quarter as the Orlando Magic (22-55) snapped a three-game losing streak. The lead changed hands five times in the fourth quarter, before Oladipo hit a three-pointer with 4:03 remaining to give Orlando the lead for good.
The Timberwolves, who beat the Miami Heat in double overtime on Friday, were without their three leading scorers, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic. Guard D J Augustin scored 25 points as the Chicago Bulls used a dominant first half to win their fifth straight game in a canter over the Washington Wizards. Augustin made six three-pointers and Joakim Noah recorded his fifth straight double-double for the Bulls (45-32), who led by 28 points in the first half and 52-26 at halftime.
Stuckey came off the bench to score 26 points and the Detroit reserves helped wipe out a 19-point deficit as the Pistons topped Boston 115-111. Stuckey’s free throws with 57 seconds left broke a 111-all tie and gave Detroit the lead for good.
The Pistons trailed by 19 points in third quarter and were down 95-85 at the start of the fourth before embarking on a 15-4 run that gave them their first lead since early in the game. The teams traded the lead several times before Stuckey’s free throws.
Greg Monroe had 21 points and Brandon Jennings added 20 for Detroit, which also got 19 and 20 rebounds from Andre Drummond, who tied the game at 111 on a tip with 1:52 to play. Thirteen of his caroms were on the offensive glass, giving him 402 this season and making him the most prolific single-season offensive rebounder since 2000.
Guard Deron Williams had 19 points and nine assists as the Brooklyn Nets held off a furious finish by the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets (42-34) won their second straight, snapped a three-game road losing streak and improved to 32-13 since opening the season 10-21.
Guard DeMar DeRozan scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Toronto Raptors pulled away late for a road victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The lead changed hands nine times over the first seven minutes of the last quarter with the Raptors finally building some separation on guard Greivis Vasquez’s three-pointer with 5:24 to play.
The Raptors shot 44 percent from the field but made 12 of 27 from long distance and were 18-for-22 from the free throw line.Agencies