The Charlotte Bobcats avoided a rare four-game losing streak with a tight home win, which they’d love to parlay into a momentum-building road victory heading into the All-Star break.
Winning as the visiting team in Minnesota has suddenly turned into a challenge.
The Bobcats look for a fifth straight victory over a sub-.500 opponent Wednesday night at the Target Center, where the Timberwolves try for a fourth consecutive home win for the first time in more than a year.
Charlotte (25-25) is 19-6 at home but 6-19 on the road, a mark it will likely need to improve to secure the franchise’s first postseason berth.
The Bobcats picked up three road wins before dropping the final two games of their recent Western Conference road trip, but they fell 104-99 to New Orleans upon returning home on Saturday.
Charlotte let a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away Tuesday against Washington, but Raymond Felton(notes) wouldn’t let his team lose a fourth straight game. Felton, playing with a sprained right ankle, hit a fadeaway jumper with 1.9 seconds left to lift the Bobcats to a 94-92 win.
“I wasn’t even thinking about my ankle at the time. I was just thinking about trying to win the game, whatever it took,” Felton said, adding that his ankle may keep him from playing Wednesday. “But I’m paying for it now.”
While Felton copes with his injury, the Bobcats welcomed center Tyson Chandler(notes) back after he missed 22 games with a foot injury. Chandler didn’t start, but he had an alley-oop dunk, hit 3 of 4 free throws and had five points and five rebounds in 10 minutes.
“I definitely wanted to come out aggressive,” said Chandler, who was off to a disappointing start (6.6 points, 7.0 rebounds per game) in his first season with the Bobcats. “My body is right now. And when your body is right you’re ready to go. … I feel like I’m one of the most athletic bigs in the league.”
Minnesota (13-39) had won four in a row for the first time all season - three at home - before losing 119-97 in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Jefferson, the Timberwolves’ leading scorer at 17.8 points per game, was held to 12, and the 76ers shot 57.5 percent while scoring 73 first-half points.
“I wish I could blame everything on the second quarter,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said of Philadelphia’s 43-point outburst. “I don’t think we came out and played hard from the beginning. I was disappointed with the effort overall. They played harder than us and we turned the ball over way too much.”
Minnesota fell to 2-13 when it gives the ball away 19 times or more. The Timberwolves’ 16.2 turnovers per game are the most in the NBA, just ahead of the Bobcats’ 15.8.
They’ll both be competing for rebounds with Gerald Wallace(notes), who’s heading to his first All-Star game as one of 11 players averaging a double-double (19.1 points, 10.9 boards). The Bobcats are 17-9 when he reaches double figures in both categories.
Wallace had 26 points and 10 rebounds in Charlotte’s 108-100 loss at Minnesota on March 14, which snapped the Bobcats’ four-game winning streak in the series.
Love had 22 points to lead the Timberwolves.