The Charlotte Bobcats are gaining a reputation as giant killers around the league. The Bobcats now must focus on beating teams with losing records, something they can start doing as they host the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
Charlotte (16-28) has one of the NBA’s worst records, but that hasn’t stopped the team from playing hard against some of the league’s best. Ten of the Bobcats’ 16 wins have come against teams with winning records, and they just completed a 2-1 road trip, beating the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver, teams that are in second place in their respective divisions.
“I say we have a bad record, but we’re not a bad basketball team,” Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
The Bobcats proved that with the wins on the road trip. They held off the Lakers in overtime, then rebounded from a bad loss to Golden State to beat the new-look Nuggets—featuring Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, two of the NBA’s top scorers—105-101 on Monday.
“We play better against the elite teams in the league,” Bobcats forward Matt Carroll said. “We play fearless like we have nothing to lose.”
If Charlotte can pick it up against teams with losing records, it might be able to get out of last place in Southeast Division. Having a healthy Gerald Wallace to complement Emeka Okafor also makes things easier. Okafor had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks against the Nuggets while Wallace had 25 points, 13 rebounds and huge block of Anthony in the final minute that kept Charlotte’s lead at 102-101.
“I went for the steal then but couldn’t reach it, so I kept going and blocked him,” said Wallace, who missed seven games with a separated shoulder.
Since Wallace returned on Jan. 19, Charlotte is 4-3, and the athletic forward is averaging 20 points and 9.3 rebounds.
The Knicks beat the Lakers 99-94 at home on Tuesday, just their third win in the last eight games. Eddy Curry scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds for New York (20-27), which led most of the game against the Lakers, who were missing Kobe Bryant, suspended for the contest.
“You’re never going to blow them out,” Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. “They’re a team with a great coach who understands how to manipulate a game and keep his team close, and they’ve got good shooters.
“Very rarely do you have blowouts and we didn’t think that by no means that we were going to blow them out. But I’m glad Kobe didn’t play. I’m really happy he didn’t play.”
The Knicks play five of their next six on the road, where they’ve lost nine of their last 12 games.
The teams have split two meetings this season, both in New York. The Knicks won 111-109 in double-overtime on Dec. 20 while the Bobcats won 126-110 on Jan. 12. Charlotte shot a franchise-record 59.3 percent in that game, but broke that mark a week later, shooting 64.6 percent in a win over Atlanta.
The Bobcats have won four of the last five meetings with the Knicks and are 3-1 all-time at home against New York.