Bobcats 96, Hawks 85
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)
Plenty of rest. Zero momentum.
The Atlanta Hawks can only hope that combination helps give them a chance in the playoffs.
Gerald Henderson scored 20 points, D.J. Augustin added 17 points and seven assists and the Charlotte Bobcats sent the Hawks to the postseason on a six-game losing streak with a 96-85 victory Wednesday night.
With no starter playing more than 25 minutes and only Kirk Hinrich (10 points) scoring in double figures, coach Larry Drew made sure the Hawks can't complain of tired legs ahead of their first-round opener Saturday at Orlando.
But Atlanta last lost six straight games midway through the 2007-08 season. Not the place you'd like to be as the Hawks try to reverse last season's ugly four-game sweep to the Magic in the second round.
''I was hoping that it wouldn't end like this,'' Drew said. ''The situation with the playoffs was one of my concerns. After we did lock up the fifth spot, I was hoping I could pull it out of our guys to continue to play hard and continue to really compete.''
Instead it was the Bobcats playing harder even with nothing to play for.
Closing a tumultuous season that saw a coaching change, a major trade and no repeat playoff appearance, Charlotte built a 20-point second-quarter lead and withstood Atlanta's reserve-fueled second-half run to finish with a two-game winning streak.
The Bobcats put five players in double figures and shot 50 percent despite playing an eighth straight game without top scorer Stephen Jackson (hamstring). The Bobcats earned a season split with the Hawks despite dressing nine players for the seventh straight game.
''I told them we must win this ball game so we can go into the next season on a high note,'' said coach Paul Silas, who took over for Larry Brown in December. ''That's exactly what happened and I have to commend the guys.''
The victory came a few hours after a rare media session in which owner Michael Jordan insisted that ''barring injuries we would have been in the playoffs.'' But Charlotte went just 9-16 after trading former All-Star Gerald Wallace, a deal that netted two first-round picks and opened salary-cap space.
''We don't have to sit on our hands this summer,'' Jordan said.
The Hawks hope their summer doesn't start early after an uninspiring end to the regular season. Atlanta took three of four from Orlando in the regular season, but were blown out in four straight playoff games a year ago.
''It's completely different. It's a new year,'' forward Al Horford said. ''We're playing a different lineup against them and it's been to our favor this season. That's why we feel so confident going into the series.''
The good news is solid play from the same bench that staged a late comeback before falling to Miami on Monday. Josh Powell scored 16 points, Damien Wilkins and Jamal Crawford added 14 points and Jeff Teague had 10.
Good thing, because Atlanta's starters, which didn't include Marvin Williams, managed 20 points. Joe Johnson was held to two points on 1-of-6 shooting in just over 10 minutes. Josh Smith had four points in 10 minutes.
''Both Joe and Josh, I could have played them the second half but I just didn't feel that the energy I saw in the first half would have just jeopardized those guys in the second half,'' Drew said. ''We got out of this thing pretty healthy.''
With an all reserve lineup, Atlanta got to 78-74 early in the fourth quarter before Charlotte's suspect bench came to the rescue. Garrett Temple, an NBA Development League callup thrust into the No. 2 point guard job, hit a 3. D.J. White, acquired in a minor trade with Oklahoma City at the deadline, added a dunk and a jumper in a 7-0 run to put it away.
''All in all I think we did very well with what we had to work with,'' Silas said. ''Going forward, they understand now what's needed.''
NOTES: Silas said he'll stress to Jackson that after initially coming back too soon and re-injuring his hamstring, he must get healed correctly in the offseason. ''I'm not advocating him working nearly as hard as D.J. Augustin or Gerald Henderson, but he needs to work on his game,'' Silas said. ''All the guys have to come back in shape.'' ... F Boris Diaw played in all 82 games for a second straight season for Charlotte and extended his overall streak to 351 consecutive games dating to 2007. ... The Bobcats finished 21-20 at home, a season after going 31-10. ... Hawks C Jason Collins (ankle) missed his fourth straight game.