There are many things the Charlotte Bobcats have yet to achieve since joining the NBA in 2004, a fact Michael Jordan will hope to change as majority owner of the team.
He can cross one item off the list before the deal is even official.
The Bobcats can notch their first win over the Dallas Mavericks in their first game since Jordan struck a deal to buy the franchise, but the Mavericks will be looking to extend their longest winning streak of the season to eight Monday in Charlotte.
Jordan agreed to purchase the financially floundering club from Bob Johnson late Friday night, although the deal still needs to be approved by the league’s other owners.
“I think it’s great, an opportunity for me to continue to play for a guy who I’ve looked up to my whole career, the best to ever play the game,” Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson(notes) said. “I think he’s going to get this team, the right guys on the court, and go in the right direction to be a consistent team in the playoffs.”
A six-time NBA champion as a player, Jordan will undoubtedly have bigger goals for the Bobcats, who’ve never reached the postseason. But he’d love to start by watching his team beat Dallas for the first time.
The Mavericks (39-21) are the only opponent Charlotte has never beaten, with the Bobcats (28-29) losing all 11 meetings. But they were closer than ever in the most recent clash, taking host Dallas to overtime on Dec. 12 before Dirk Nowitzki(notes) hit a game-winning jumper in the final seconds to give the Mavs the 98-97 victory.
“We deserved to win this game,” Jackson said. “We competed and did everything we’re supposed to do to win this game. For some reason, it didn’t happen that way.”
Still, the Bobcats have a better winning percentage this season than ever before, and they have a tenuous hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference as they chase the franchise’s elusive first playoff berth.
They snapped a three-game losing streak by salvaging the finale of a four-game road trip Friday, beating Memphis 93-89 behind 32 points from Jackson. Charlotte could be helped by playing four of its next five at home, where it is 20-7.
“My thing is getting us to the playoffs,” forward Gerald Wallace(notes) said. “We’re more focused on getting there. It’s our first berth, and we’ve got a good chance. We let some games slip away that we should have won. We’re back in the fight.”
Dallas should cruise to a 10th consecutive postseason, especially after winning seven straight to take control of the Southwest Division. Nowitzki had 36 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the Mavericks to a 108-100 win over New Orleans on Sunday night.
The big German has topped 30 points in three straight games, but he was disappointed that the Mavs nearly squandered a big third-quarter lead against the Hornets, forcing him and some other starters to play through the fourth quarter.
“We would have loved to have had more rest in the fourth quarter, but we screwed that up,” Nowitzki said. “Back-to-backs are part of the NBA and this is one of the tougher ones for us this season.”
The good news for Nowitzki was the return of Caron Butler(notes), who had 19 points Sunday after missing the previous two games due to a bad reaction to medication. Dallas is 7-1 since getting Butler, Brendan Haywood(notes) and DeShawn Stevenson(notes) from Washington before the trade deadline.
The Mavs haven’t won eight in a row since a nine-game winning streak from March 16-30, 2007.