Bobcats 83, Heat 78

The Charlotte Bobcats keep finding new ways to beat the Miami

Heat, and that just might end up deciding which team goes to the

playoffs.

That prospect left Dwyane Wade fuming after the Heat’s

second-half offensive meltdown.

Thanks to D.J. Augustin’s big fourth quarter, Raymond Felton’s

steady play and Wade’s shooting woes, the Bobcats earned their

third straight win over Miami, 83-78 on Tuesday night to further

crowd the Eastern Conference playoff race.

With Chicago (31-32) losing later to Utah, the Bobcats (31-31)

moved into seventh place in the East with one fewer loss than the

Heat (32-32), who managed 30 points in the second half and 12 in

the fourth quarter.

“The ball didn’t go in the basket the same,” Wade said when

asked about the second half, when he shot 3 for 11. “I ain’t

giving Charlotte no credit if that’s what you’re looking for.”

Wade scored 27 points, but clanged a tying 3-point attempt in

the final seconds for the Heat, who blew a 15-point lead and had

their three-game winning streak snapped.

“He can say whatever he wants to say,” said Charlotte’s Gerald

Wallace, who grabbed 17 rebounds. “We’re over here as a team, we

know what we did. He says he doesn’t credit us. He had what, 17 in

the first half? How many did he have in the second half?”

The Bobcats used what they felt were derogatory comments

directed their way by Miami’s Michael Beasley in the last meeting

as motivation in a 39-point rout, Miami’s worst loss of the

season.

Charlotte rallied from 19 down to win in Miami in the first

matchup. The 3-0 mark clinches the season series and potential

tiebreaker.

“It felt like a playoff game, honestly,” said Felton, who had

15 points and 11 assists. “It was a big win for us.”

Down by 13 midway through the third quarter and 72-63 early in

the fourth, the Bobcats stormed back behind Augustin. Getting more

playing time after Flip Murray was traded last month, Augustin had

a four-point play and four free throws in an 8-0 run.

After three failed chances with the ball down a point, Felton

drained a 3-pointer with 3:32 left to give Charlotte its first lead

since 6-4.

Trailing 80-78 in the final minute, Miami forced a shot clock

violation and Wade then got the ball at the top of the circle. He

whipped a pass into the corner for Udonis Haslem, who missed a

baseline jumper.

Felton then hit just 1-of-2 free throws with 7.2 seconds left,

giving Miami another chance. But Wade’s 3 in the left corner

bounced off the rim.

“That’s a tough one for us to handle, being in control most of

the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We showed up ready

for the fight and we did not close the game well at all, certainly

not offensively.”

It left a rare, big crowd for an early midweek game in Charlotte

celebrating, including owner-to-be Michael Jordan. Attending his

fourth straight game since agreeing to buy the club, Jordan grinned

and slapped some high-fives after Charlotte improved to 23-8 at

home.

“I wouldn’t want to come to a game and support a team that

hasn’t been winning, that’s been one of the worst teams in the

league,” said Stephen Jackson, who scored 17 points. “Now we’ve

got a chance to bounce back and get to the playoffs. … They’re

coming and supporting us, so we can’t fall short.”

Augustin and Felton, who had a season high in assists, took

advantage of Miami’s thin backcourt.

Carlos Arroyo again started at point guard, while Spoelstra said

before the game the team still hadn’t heard from Rafer Alston

outside text messaging after he abruptly left the team and was

suspended.

Spoelstra wouldn’t say if Alston will be released, but said the

Heat are “moving forward with the guys we have in this locker

room.”

That group raced to a 42-27 lead. But the Heat shot 33 percent

in the second half. Whether that was the Bobcats’ defense or poor

execution was a point of contention.

“If he doesn’t want to give us any credit, that’s his

opinion,” Felton said of Wade. “We won the game.”

NOTES: Bobcats coach Larry Brown denied an SI.com report that he

inquired about the Clippers’ coaching job while concerned Jordan’s

ownership bid might fail. Asked if he was committed to Charlotte

long-term, Brown replied, “It’s up to Michael.” … Brown said he

hasn’t talked with Allen Iverson, who left the 76ers amid reports

of personal problems, in three weeks. “I’m concerned he’s not in

the league. I’m concerned his wife filed for divorce,” Brown said.

… Spoelstra said he immediately thought of Hank Gathers when he

watched Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey collapse last week. “I shuddered

and it immediately brought back many horrible memories,” said

Spoelstra, who played in the game Gathers collapsed and died in 20

years ago.