After losing their past two games to Portland and New York on 3-point buzzer-beaters, the Bobcats overcame a poor shooting fourth quarter and held on to defeat the Nuggets 94-88.
Coming off the two emotional losses and playing without top scorer Emeka Okafor and key reserve Steve Smith, the Bobcats showed great determination. And while the victory will not help the Bobcats (11-39) this season, coach Bernie Bickerstaff believes it was the type of win that could do wonders overall for a young team.
“When you come back in another season with the character and work ethic of this group of players, you’re going to be fine,” Bickerstaff said.
Bickerstaff liked the production of Rush and Bogans, who combined to shoot 15-for-27 from the field for 38 points.
“(Bogans and Rush) looked like they were the greyhound and Michael Jordan out there,” Denver coach George Karl said.
The Nuggets looked every bit like a team anxious to get home for the All-Star break, closing out a five-game road swing with a 2-3 record that also included losses to Minnesota and New Jersey.
Denver led 50-49 at halftime, but Rush scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first four minutes of the second half as Charlotte quickly built a 10-point lead.
The Nuggets appeared to tire after a comeback win against Atlanta the night before, but the Bobcats gave them a chance by failing to score in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. Denver cut its deficit to 84-82 with 4:50 left.
On the following possession, Anthony’s dunk off an offensive rebound appeared to tie the game, but he was called for offensive goaltending.
“We dug a hole, fought back, dug a hole, fought back,” Karl said. “It’s a dangerous philosophy. Our guys seem to fight when they get down. I’d like to see them fight with a lead, build a lead and play with a lead.”
The Nuggets hit only two field goals in the final 4:30 and Rush hit a 3-pointer from the wing with a minute left to put the Bobcats up by seven.
Charlotte’s Emeka Okafor did not play, but said it’s possible he may play Friday night in the rookie challenge. However, Okafor said he’s thinking of his own team first. “It’s not as serious at the other one,” Okafor said of a previous ankle injury. “The collective goal is to just try to get healthy as a team so we can see what we’re about.” … Bickerstaff said he plans to spend part of the All-Star break searching for a point guard. He’ll attend a NBA developmental league game in Columbus, Ga., on Thursday to scout Cory Alexander of the Roanoke Dazzle. … Steve Smith did not play for Charlotte because of the flu.