Felton’s late layup lifts Bobcats
By MIKE CRANSTON
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — In danger of a second straight embarrassing loss, the Charlotte Bobcats turned to their hobbled point guard and their much-criticized power forward.
They were just good enough to send the Philadelphia 76ers to another loss before Allen Iverson’s return.
Raymond Felton overcame bruised ribs and blew past Samuel Dalembert for a layup with 4.7 seconds left, and Charlotte needed Boris Diaw’s best game of the season to beat the slumping Sixers 106-105 on Saturday night.
“I hope we celebrate this,” coach Larry Brown said. “This is a good win after last night.”
That would be Charlotte becoming the first team to lose to the New Jersey Nets after their 0-18 start, the worst in NBA history.
Midway through the fourth quarter and down by 10 points, they appeared ready to hand the Sixers their first win in more than two weeks.
But Diaw, targeted by Brown before the game for his suspect play, hit a 3-pointer and a scoop shot in a late run. Then Felton rubbed off a screen, drew the 6-foot-11 Dalembert off a switch and beat him to the hoop for the go-ahead basket.
Diaw had 28 points, and Gerald Wallace had 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Bobcats snapped a two-game losing streak.
“I love these guys on this team, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to come out and play,” said Felton, who was hurt late against the Nets and nearly didn’t play. “They look at me as their leader, so if I’m able to walk I’m out there.”
Andre Iguodala missed a fadeaway at the buzzer for the 76ers in their ninth straight loss ahead of Iverson’s first game Monday.
“We played just good enough to not win,” said Iguodala, who had 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists despite turning his right ankle in the first half.
Willie Green scored 26 points, and an X-ray on his right hand after the game showed only a bruise in another day full of injury news for the Sixers.
With Louis Williams out a couple of months with a broken jaw, the Sixers were without replacement Jrue Holiday. He strained his right rotator cuff while blocking Green’s dunk in practice Friday.
Coach Eddie Jordan moved Green to point guard and Iguodala into the backcourt. That allowed Elton Brand to start after he came off the bench for two games following his return from a hamstring injury.
Green was the star in the third quarter. Scoring on a variety of 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers, drives and free throws, he had 18 points in the period, including a banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Philadelphia an 86-78 lead.
Charlotte slowly chipped away and Diaw’s 3-pointer with 1:22 left cut it to 103-102. The Sixers failed to convert on two possessions, and Iguodala’s turnover gave the Bobcats the ball.
After two timeouts, Diaw’s scoop shot in the lane put Charlotte up 104-103 with 17 seconds left. Iguodala hit two free throws 4 seconds later and Charlotte didn’t call a timeout before Felton’s length of the court drive.
“We were able to have the court spaced and the defense was kind of scattered around,” Felton said. “I had a 1-on-1 chance with Dalembert and I just went by him.”
The inconsistent Bobcats drew the wrath of coach Larry Brown before the game, who targeted Diaw, Tyson Chandler and Charlotte’s other big men.
Diaw, held to four points and three rebounds on 1-of-6 shooting against the Nets, was more energetic and scored 11 points in the first quarter. Wallace heated up in the second period, and Charlotte led by as many as eight before Jason Kapono’s hot shooting got Philadelphia within 49-48 at halftime.
Diaw hit 10 of 12 shots, including 5 of 6 3-pointers. Felton added 18 points for the Bobcats, who were the last team to lose to the Sixers on Nov. 18.
“We’re still not playing quite the right way,” Diaw said. “We should never be down 10 with 10 minutes to go, but at least we showed some effort in coming back.”
Philadelphia can only hope Iverson’s return can give it a boost. He’s to practice with the team on Sunday and is expected to play Monday against Denver.
“He’s got one practice day to get acclimated,” Brand said, “and we’ll roll from there.”
NOTES: Jordan didn’t seem concerned that Brand had been upset coming off the bench. “It doesn’t really affect me,” Jordan said, before smiling and adding, “I think he told Jrue to go up and block the dunk.” … Bobcats G D.J. Augustin didn’t play for the second straight game. “He hasn’t defended like he needs to defend. He hasn’t made shots. He hasn’t distributed the ball,” Brown said. … Sixers C Primoz Brezec, who scored the first basket in Bobcats’ history in 2004, chatted with several team employees before tipoff.
Received 12/05/09 10:58 pm ET