By John Delong
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats had never beaten the Dallas Mavericks in their nine-year history before Saturday night.
But thanks to Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ramon Sessions and a defense that rose to the occasion several times, the losing streak is over.
Walker scored 26 points, Kidd-Gilchrist had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Sessions made two big plays down the stretch as the Bobcats rallied for a 101-97 overtime win.
It was Charlotte's first win in 17 tries over the past nine years, and it came after the Mavs had pounded them 126-99 in Dallas last Saturday. The Bobcats have now beaten every NBA opponent at least once over the years.
To Coach Mike Dunlap, it was a noteworthy accomplishment.
"It's very significant," Dunlap said. "There are a lot of firsts in terms of taking care of some things, some negative statistics. But we feel we should be able to beat teams that have long winning streaks against us.
"We have to do it the hard way. We have to earn it. And we have to understand this is a process here. We won't get carried away with hyperbole because we have a lot of respect for Dallas, but it was a feather in our cap to get that done tonight."
Walker was just happy that the Bobcats (2-3) could snap a three-game losing streak and bounce back after a 107-99 loss at New Orleans on Friday night.
"I could care less about not beating Dallas in however many years," Walker said. "It was just a huge win for us. We were desperate for that win, especially coming off a back to back.
"We played really well and a lot of guys played really well, and that's what was so good for us. We did a lot of things really well that we can build on."
Walker's 26 points came on 10-of-22 shooting. He also had seven assists, six rebounds and eight steals, as the Bobcats forced 19 Dallas turnovers.
Kidd-Gilchrist was 8 of 12 from the field and 9 of 10 from the line, including two key free throws with 19 seconds left in overtime that gave the Bobcats a 99-95 lead.
Sessions had 12 points, including a driving layup with 2.8 seconds left in regulation that tied it 91-91 and forced overtime, and two free throws with 6.3 seconds left in overtime that pushed the lead to 101-97 and sealed the victory.
The defensive effort, especially down the stretch, was critical as the Bobcats rallied after trailing by 11 at halftime and by eight (84-76) with 4:53 remaining in regulation. Dallas shot just 40.5 percent from the field, committed 19 turnovers and was outrebounded by the Bobcats 53-43.
"We gave up way too many points the last time we played them, so the guys made some nice adjustments, on the pick and roll in particular and just in ball pressure," Dunlap said. "And defensive rebounding was key. We didn't let them get a lot of boards."
Dunlap and Walker both had high praise for Kidd-Gilchrist, who shattered his previous career high of 13 points and was active all night.
"Rookies have tremendous highs and lows, but I think everybody that's been watching all of our games says he just keeps getting a little bit better," Dunlap said. "Tonight, he had a breakout game. I think realistic expectations are he can do what he's doing on the boards, he's a great defender, and the third part of his game is indescribable - he has those intangibles."
"He was unbelievable tonight, grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, pushing the ball coast to coach for and ones," Walker said. "He wasn't a rookie tonight."
For the Mavs (4-3), it was a lost weekend. They opened this brief two-game Eastern trip with a 104-94 loss at New York on Friday.
O.J. Mayo scored 22. Vince Carter, who missed a long jumper at the buzzer of regulation after the Mavs inbounded with 2.8 seconds left, finished with 19. Darren Collison scored 14 and Elton Brand scored 10.
"It's frustrating not making plays down the stretch," Brand said. "Especially defensively. That's what we hang our hat on. We didn't get those stops down the stretch. The offense, that's going to come. We're getting our shots, that's going to come. But defensively not getting rebounds off free throws and things like that's what we worked on. We talked about it. So that's what makes it disappointing."
The Mavs played without regulars Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. Nowitzki, who is rehabbing after right knee surgery, and Marion, who has a sprained left MCL, did not accompany the team on this two-game trip. The Bobcats continue to be without Gerald Henderson, who is out at least another week with a left foot sprain.
NOTES: The Mavs will return home to play Minnesota on Monday night, while the Bobcats will be off until Tuesday, when they will host Washington. ... The Bobcats had not hit the century mark in any of their previous 16 games against Dallas. ... Gordon's 34 points against New Orleans on Friday was a Bobcats franchise record for points by a reserve, but not close to his career-high of 48 against Milwaukee while he was with Detroit in 2007. ... Brendan Haywood returned and was back in the Bobcats' starting lineup after missing Friday night's game to attend to a family matter. ... Carter played despite suffering a hip injury Friday in New York.