Bobcats 103, 76ers 84
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)
There were countless times this season when Tyson Chandler knew what he wanted to do, but his troublesome left foot wouldn't let him.
Now after enduring criticism that Charlotte's offseason deal to get him was a bad move, Chandler's mind and body are finally starting to mesh just as the Bobcats make a playoff push.
Chandler's season-high 15 points coupled with 24 points and 12 rebounds from Gerald Wallace on Wednesday night powered the Bobcats to a 103-84 victory over the undermanned Philadelphia 76ers.
``It just feels good to feel like myself for once this year,'' said Chandler, who underwent ankle and toe surgery in the offseason. ``It feels good to have my legs under me. It feels good to go up and actually be able to finish.''
The 7-foot-1 Chandler's inside presence was part of a dominating second half for Charlotte. Bouncing back from a home loss two nights earlier to Toronto, the Bobcats forced 25 turnovers and took 24 more free throws than the 76ers to move four games ahead of ninth-place Chicago in the Eastern Conference with eight games left. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
And for Chandler, acquired from New Orleans for Emeka Okafor, being able to contribute is a special feeling. He hit 4 of 5 shots from the field, 7 of 8 free throws, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.
Chandler says he's now at about 85 percent.
``It was more frustrating for me than it could possibly be for anybody else because I'm a very prideful person,'' Chandler said of the criticism he received for his suspect play. ``I took it to heart. Me and coach (Larry Brown) had a talk about it. I had to get over it because I wasn't 100 percent.''
The Sixers know all about not being at full strength, dressing just nine players in their second straight loss and 49th of the season. Rodney Carney couldn't go after injuring his right big toe Tuesday against Oklahoma City. Thaddeus Young (thumb) and Louis Williams (back) didn't travel.
``You don't feel like you're short-handed when guys are competing like that,'' Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said. ``We just didn't make plays. We didn't make shots and we turned the ball over.''
Andre Iguodala scored 14 points amid foul trouble, and got little help. Elton Brand was held to eight points on 4 of 13 shooting, Jason Kapono was 5 of 15 and rookie Jrue Holiday had seven turnovers.
To make matters worse, Jordan said before the game he'll have to limit Iguodala's minutes because of the lingering plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Foul trouble made it easy to sit him. Iguodala picked up his fourth foul with 6:47 left in the third quarter. Before the period was over, Brand had five fouls and Samuel Dalembert four, helping Charlotte take control with a collection of dunks and free throws.
Wallace had a one-handed alley-oop jam on a feed from Raymond Felton, then a layup on a behind-the-head pass from Boris Diaw as the Bobcats took a 77-59 lead.
``We're still not playing perfect, as coach would want us to, but we found a way to win,'' said Stephen Jackson, who had 16 points but shot 7 of 19 while being slowed by a sore hamstring. ``We've still got some work to do.''
After the Bobcats were upset with several calls down the stretch of Monday's loss to Toronto, new owner Michael Jordan wasted little time targeting the referees from his seat next to the Charlotte bench. He yelled after an out of bounds call went Philadelphia's way, and the call was overturned by the trail official.
Jordan was in a much better mood when he rocked back in his chair in laughter during a conversation with referee Leon Wood before the start of the second quarter. The Jordan on the other bench, however, was steamed with a 16-3 free-throw discrepancy as the Bobcats built a 10-point halftime lead.
``I think they were aggressive, trying to get to the line,'' Brand said. ``And they got the calls.''
But Philadelphia's inability to hold onto the ball and Chandler's play inside played big roles, too.
``I'm the type of player that I've got to get going by running the floor, challenging shots, going after the glass,'' Chandler said. ``When that's taken away from me, I'm not the player I am.''
NOTES: Brown praised Eddie Jordan for how the Sixers have played hard after being eliminated from playoff contention. Asked if a coaching change would set the franchise back - Jordan's future is uncertain - Brown replied, ``I don't think they ever help.'' ... Bobcats F Tyrus Thomas (ankle) dressed but missed his second straight game. ... The Bobcats improved to 23-3 when reaching 100 points.