Bobcats-Jazz Preview

Close losses have been the norm for the Charlotte Bobcats of

late. Over the last five seasons, losses of all types have been the

norm against the Utah Jazz.

Charlotte will try to end its long skid versus Utah Monday night

when it continues a five-game trip.

The Bobcats (14-17) have dropped three of four, including an

88-85 home loss to the Jazz on Dec. 21 – their ninth straight

defeat in the series. After an overtime win versus Milwaukee, they

followed that with an 89-85 loss to NBA-leading Oklahoma City,

which saw the Thunder held to their second-lowest scoring output of

the season.

Charlotte’s luck didn’t improve on Saturday with a 118-116

overtime loss in Atlanta. Al Jefferson had 24 points and a

season-high 23 rebounds for his fifth double-double in six games.

However, he again found himself on the unfortunate end of a

decisive, late moment in a game that Charlotte led by 14 with 4:19

left in the third quarter.

A week after missing two point-blank shots on offensive rebounds

in the final 13 seconds against his former Jazz side, Jefferson was

guarding Hawks center Pero Antic when Antic buried a one-legged

3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left in regulation to force the extra

period.

“My guy hit a shot fake, going left, off one leg, a 3-point shot

to tie the game,” said Jefferson, who is averaging 22.2 points and

13.2 rebounds over his last six games. “I mean, what can you say?

It’s part of the game, I guess. It hurts, though.”

The Bobcats’ last five losses have come by an average of 3.4

points.

“I just told them, we have to get past the point where

everybody’s happy that the Bobcats aren’t getting beat every

night,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. ”Because we’re better

than that, OK? We can play better than this.”

The Jazz (9-24) have split their last 10 games, an improvement

for a team with the league’s second-worst record. Monday provides a

chance for a second straight win at home for the first time this

season after Derrick Favors had a last-second game-winning putback

dunk in Friday’s 105-103 victory over the Lakers.

But Favors was a non-factor in Saturday’s 98-90 road loss to the

Los Angeles Clippers. Favors finished with four points and nine

rebounds, fouling out in just 22 minutes of action while Utah

surrendered 40 points to Blake Griffin.

“I can’t say enough about our guys coming out after last night

and the effort we had tonight,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We made

some mistakes down the stretch, but our performance overall is

getting better and more consistent. I’m pleased with that.”

Charlotte would like to get Kemba Walker on track after he’s

gone 10 of 37 over his last two games with 34 points. He had been

averaging 26.0 on 58.6 percent shooting over six games, including

20 points on 9-of-16 shooting versus Utah.

Gerald Henderson is just 6 for 23 with 17 points in his last two

games against the Jazz.