Jefferson Bobcats stop Bucks again, 92-76

John Delong, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE - The Charlotte Bobcats have been struggling at home lately, and Al Jefferson took it personally.
So the veteran center went out and had his best game since signing a three-year, $41-million contract with the club, going for 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Bobcats beat the Milwaukee Bucks 92-76 on Friday night.
Jefferson scored 19 points in the second half, when the Bobcats remained in control throughout and led by as many as 19.
Charlotte (8-9) had lost six of its previous seven at Time Warner Cable Arena, including the first two games to start this three-game homestand.
"We really needed this win bad," Jefferson said. "We just had to go out and be focused and be ready to play tonight. I think for some reason we don't always have that focus at home like we do on the road.
"I've never been on a team in my whole career that played bad at home and great on the road, it's always been the other way around. But tonight we came out with our focus and ready to play."
The Bobcats led by as many as 15 in the first half, led 51-41 at halftime, and then pushed the lead back up to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.
"We needed this," said guard Gerald Henderson, who chipped in with 19 points including 12 in the first half. "Coach has been emphasizing to us 8-9 looks a lot better than 7-10.
"You know, you get down three games under .500 you've got to work your way back up, and now we're just one away. We're in a good spot and now we'll go out on the road with our confidence up."
It was Charlotte's second win over the Bucks in the past week, after the Bobcats rolled to a 96-72 win at Milwaukee last Saturday.
Jefferson, who has missed nine games this season because of a bone bruise in his right ankle, went for 20 points and 11 rebounds in the previous win. He was simply too much for the Bucks to handle inside.
"He took over in the second half," Milwaukee guard Brandon Knight said of Jefferson. "That's what the great post players do when you feed them.
"We had a lot of lapses I think, and we gave up some 'and-ones' and that really hurt us. If we're going to foul, we need to make sure he doesn't get the shot up. But he's a great player and he knows how to play and it's something we've got to learn about playing against a dominant post player."
Added Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, "He just has such a skill level, and he's just now getting in to playing shape. He's fun to watch. I mean, he has everything."
The Bobcats also got 11 points from guard Ramon Sessions, 10 points from guard Kemba Walker, and 14 rebounds from center Bismack Biyombo.
Defensively, they held the Bucks to 33.3 percent shooting from the field on 28 of 84.
Knight led the way with a season-high 17 points, and forward Gary Neal and center Epke Udoh scored 10 each. Guard O.J. Mayo, who came into the game averaging 15.3, was held to five points on 2 of 11 shooting.
Bucks coach Larry Drew said his team is still searching for an identity.
"We've just got to be professionals, we've got to be men," Drew said. "We've got to stand up. This is the NBA, and this is life in the NBA. There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves. The only way we can get out of this hole is if we make up our minds to go out there and get out of it."
NOTES: Bobcats F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed his first game of the season with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Kidd-Gilchrist suffered the injury in Wednesday's loss to Indiana. Coach Steve Clifford said that Kidd-Gilchrist would hopefully only miss a few days. F Jeffery Taylor started in Kidd-Gilchrist's place. ... The Bobcats also remain without C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture, left foot) who could miss more than two months. ... Milwaukee F Caron Butler (swollen left knee) was a late scratch. The Bucks have not had G Carlos Delfino all season after surgery on his right foot, and C Larry Sanders missed his 11th straight game after undergoing thumb surgery on Nov. 11. Sanders picked up a technical foul in the second quarter for arguing from the bench in street clothes. ... Bobcats G Ben Gordon appeared for just the second time all season, snapping a streak of 13 straight DNP-CDs. He scored eight points in 17 minutes. ... The Bucks' last win came against Cleveland at home on Nov. 6. The Bucks' lone road win came at Boston on Nov. 1. ...The Bobcats were closing out a three-game homestand. They'll play at Miami on Sunday and then will continue on to play at Dallas next Tuesday. ... The Bucks will return home to face Boston on Saturday.

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