Surprising back-to-back wins have helped the Charlotte Bobcats get back in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Despite a disappointing loss their last time out, the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff hopes also remain very much alive.
Seeking a third consecutive win for the first time in two months, the Bobcats will try for a fourth straight home victory over the Bucks in Monday night’s pivotal matchup.
Following a 2-10 stretch, it looked like the Bobcats (30-42) would miss out on the postseason for the sixth time in their seven-year history.
However, after an 83-81 win at Boston on Friday with leading scorer Stephen Jackson(notes) on the sidelines and defeating New York 114-106 the following night, Charlotte still finds itself in ninth place in the East, one game behind Indiana for the final playoff spot.
“From the start of the year our goal was to make the playoffs, and we’re still trying to attain that goal,” forward Matt Carroll(notes) told the Bobcats’ official website. “We’re still fighting for it regardless of what the situation is.”
“We haven’t given up and that’s the goal of everybody - coaches, players, the organization – and we’re still fighting for it.”
Milwaukee (29-43), too, continues to stick around and sits just one game in back of Charlotte despite falling 95-87 to Chicago on Saturday.
The Bucks led by as many 15 but were outscored 26-13 in the fourth quarter and suffered their fifth loss in eight games.
“We still got a chance (at the playoffs), it’s gonna come down to probably the last couple games of the season - we’re still right there,” said swingman John Salmons(notes), who had 25 points. “We just have to continue to play (hard) down the stretch for the rest of the season and see what happens.”
Carlos Delfino(notes) went five of seven from 3-point range against the Bulls and finished with 23 points. Delfino has made 26 of 44 (59.1 percent) from long distance and is averaging 23.4 points over his last five games.
Jennings, though, is averaging 26.0 points - 10.2 more than his season mark - in two wins against Charlotte this season.
Jackson returned Saturday after sitting out against Boston with a hamstring injury that’s sidelined him for five of 11 contests.
“That motivated me to see those guys (win that game in Boston),” said Jackson, who scored 19 against the Knicks. “Everybody counted us out and the young guys got a win for us that we definitely needed.
“If our young guys can go out there and try to keep our season going, then that’s more motivation for me… This is the best I’ve felt.”
Charlotte, which last won three in a row Jan. 25-28 while Jackson averaged 25.0 points, has lost three of four to Milwaukee but has taken three straight in the series at home.
Jackson had made 10 of 18 from beyond the arc and averaged 30.0 points in his previous three matchups with the Bucks before failing to score in a 104-101 loss Nov. 27 after getting ejected for picking up two technical fouls less than six minutes in.