Charlotte (35-33) at Miami (35-34)

  • Game info: 7:30 pm EDT Sat Mar 20, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Thanks to their success against the Miami Heat, the Charlotte Bobcats’ are in a slightly better position to withstand a minor slump.

In a matchup of struggling teams jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference, the Bobcats look to sweep their season series with the Heat on Saturday night.

Charlotte (35-33) and Miami (35-34) are among five teams jockeying for the final four playoff spots in the East. The Bobcats are in sixth place, a half-game ahead of the Heat.

With the regular season winding down, neither team can afford to let their slumps last much longer. Charlotte has lost two of three after winning its previous six, and Miami had won six of seven prior to losing two straight.

The Bobcats, though, already hold the tiebreaker with the Heat, winning the first three meetings this season. Charlotte has held Miami to an average of 71.5 points over the last two contests.

Though they were strong defensively again Friday night, the Bobcats lost 93-92 in overtime to Atlanta.

“Sometimes the best-laid plans don’t seem to work out,” coach Larry Brown said.

It was the second straight road loss for the Bobcats, who were held to a total of 23 points after the third quarter even though Gerald Wallace(notes) was back in the lineup. Wallace had 20 points and 16 rebounds after missing three games with an ankle injury.

Wallace was held to eight points in Charlotte’s 83-78 win over Miami on March 9, the teams’ last meeting, but the veteran forward contributed 17 rebounds.

Wallace’s return takes some of the scoring burden off Stephen Jackson(notes), who had reached at least 20 points in five straight games prior a 19-point performance against the Hawks.

Jackson went 1 for 7 from 3-point range and missed two attempts from the line with the Bobcats leading 84-82 late in regulation.

“I owe my team one,” said Jackson, who had 35 points and eight rebounds in his last game at Miami, a 107-97 Charlotte win Jan. 2.

Nazr Mohammed(notes) was limited to 10 points over 16 minutes in that contest. He’s missed 14 straight games due to a back injury, leaving the Bobcats with little depth at center.

Veteran Theo Ratliff(notes) is averaging 6.2 points and 4.1 rebounds since replacing Mohammed in the starting lineup. Tyson Chandler(notes) has been used off the bench in nine games after missing 29 of his previous 32 due to a left foot injury.

Charlotte will need somebody to step up in the paint to help stop Dwyane Wade’s(notes) drives to the basket. He’s averaging 30.9 points, 7.4 assists and 2.2 steals over his last nine games.

Wade’s 36 points and 10 rebounds weren’t enough to help Miami avoid a 108-102 overtime loss to Orlando on Thursday. Wade reached double figures in scoring for the 442nd game, tying Alonzo Mourning’s(notes) franchise record.

With Michael Beasley(notes) nursing a bruised thigh, Wade has had to be even more aggressive offensively. Beasley has scored 14 points while shooting 28.6 percent in two games after missing the previous two.

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Saturday, Mar 20