Bobcats beat Thunder to give Jordan first win
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Michael Jordan was known to play his best against the best. The team he now owns seems to fit that description, too.
Hours after Jordan was approved as the first former player to be a majority owner of an NBA team, his Charlotte Bobcats continued a remarkable string of success against the better teams in the NBA, rallying from 19 points down to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-92 on Wednesday night.
Stephen Jackson(notes) scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half, Stephen Graham(notes) matched a career high with 19 points filling in for the injured Gerald Wallace(notes), and the Bobcats sent poor-shooting Kevin Durant(notes) and the Thunder to only their fourth loss in 21 games.
Jordan may have won six NBA titles and five league MVPs as a player—but now he’s also 1-0 as an owner.
“Happy owner, happy team, happy organization,” Jackson said.
Charlotte’s seventh win in eight games came a night after an ugly loss at struggling Indiana. It’s been a trend: Charlotte is 1-2 against the seven-win New Jersey Nets, yet have won three straight against Cleveland, beat Orlando on Sunday and have taken seven of the last nine meetings against the Los Angeles Lakers.
This game, though, had a different feel.
Jordan, who was a part-owner with the final say on basketball decisions, sat in his customary seat at the end of the Charlotte bench. But this was the first time he did it as the big boss. The league’s Board of Governors on Wednesday unanimously approved his $275 million purchase from Bob Johnson.
“I say this all the time, that there’s a different energy when he’s around, in the building, in the locker room, among the players,” Bobcats coach Larry Brown said.
Durant had 26 points and 10 rebounds, but was 9 of 26 from the field and 0 of 7 from 3-point range for the Thunder, who were outscored 41-16 in the key stretch bridging halftime.
“His shot was short most of the night,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s a worker. He’s going to come back. Very rarely is he going to have a 9-for-26 shooting game.”
Jackson’s 3-pointer with 4:48 left put Charlotte ahead 89-85 and the Thunder never threatened again.
Durant agreed the loss was “shocking” for a team that had been among the hottest in the NBA and is tangling with Utah for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It also prevented Oklahoma City from clinching a winning record after going 43-121 in the last two seasons.
“They made big shots and they played well throughout the whole game,” Durant said. “They played harder than we did.”
Not at the beginning.
Jordan made his way to his seat 2 minutes into the game, and about the first thing he saw was Brown calling a timeout with the Thunder leading 8-2.
But Thomas fueled Charlotte’s 11-0 run in less than 2 minutes to close the half with a steal of Westbrook and a dunk. Raymond Felton’s(notes) 3-pointer in the final second cut the deficit to 51-43 at halftime.
Jackson, 0-for-5 from the field in the first half, got hot in the third quarter and Graham’s dunk and floater gave Charlotte a 73-67 lead.
Wallace (ankle) went through a workout before the game, but wasn’t cleared to return, giving Graham another start. He scored 19 points for the second straight night on 7-of-9 shooting.
It allowed the Bobcats to match the biggest comeback win in their six-year history, improve to 25-8 at home and hold onto sixth place in the Eastern Conference as they eye their first playoff berth with the famous guy running things now.
“If you mention basketball, you can’t help but mention Michael Jordan,” Felton said. “So just to have him as an owner, that’s big. Seeing him sit there every game watching us play and stuff, that means a lot to the players. It makes you want to play harder.”
NOTES: Johnson, who will be a minority investor in Jordan’s ownership group, also attended the game. “The first thing he said to me was we’ve got to help Michael,” Brown said. … Bobcats C Nazr Mohammed(notes) (back) missed his 13th straight game. … Thunder G Mustafa Shakur(notes), signed to a 10-day contract Tuesday, was inactive. … Thunder G Eric Maynor(notes), of Fayetteville, N.C., had a loyal cheering section. … Brooks was high on Jordan as an owner. “He has a lot of pride,” he said. “He’s going to want to have success.”