Bobcats end losing skid with win over Bulls
CHICAGO- Agence France-Presse
Jeff Adrien (L) of the Charlotte Bobcats dunks the ball over the Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer during the two teams’ NBA meeting at the United Center. With the win, the Bobcats ended their league-worst 18-game losing streak. AFP photo
The Charlotte Bobcats will get something of a fresh start in 2013, after ending their 18-game NBA losing streak with a 91-81 New Year’s Eve triumph over the Chicago Bulls.
Kemba Walker scored 18 points and Charlotte dominated the fourth quarter, when they out-scored the Bulls 26-16 to earn their first victory since a double-overtime triumph over the Washington Wizards on November 24.
The Bobcats notched their eighth victory of the season, meaning they surpassed their entire win total from their epically disastrous 7-59 campaign in 2011-2012.
Former Bull Ben Gordon scored six of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats also displayed determined defense, limiting the Bulls to 35.1 percent shooting from the floor.
The Bobcats ended their slide despite the absence of rookie standout Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who missed the game after his right cornea was scratched in a loss to New Orleans on Saturday.
Four Charlotte players scored 15 or more points as they avoided the dubious distinction of going all of December without a win.
“We knew we were better than this,” said guard Gerald Henderson. “We started out 7-5. We never thought we’d see another 18-game losing streak.”
Carlos Boozer scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Bulls but made just 7- of-18 attempts from the floor.
Luol Deng delivered 20 points and 12 rebounds but couldn’t prevent the Bulls from dropping their third decision in four games.
Ömer Aşık posts double-double
Meanwhile, Turkish center Ömer Aşık posted a double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds as the Houston Rockets crushed the Atlanta Hawks 123-104.
James Harden had 28 points and Houston rebounded from its worst loss of the season with the win.
The Rockets were coming off a 30-point defeat by Oklahoma City and had allowed at least 120 points in their last two games - both losses. They used a 16-0 run in the second quarter to build a big lead and hold on for the win.
Lou Williams had 21 points for the Hawks, whose winning streak ended at four games.
Houston was up by 15 points in the fourth quarter before Atlanta used a 12-2 run to cut the lead to 102-97 with about five minutes remaining. The Rockets answered with an 8-0 run to regain control.
Elsewhere, LeBron James delivered the go-ahead basket in overtime and Dwyane Wade followed with a steal and a dunk to seal a 112-110 victory for the NBA champion Miami Heat over Orlando.
James’s 36 points included a slashing layup that broke a 106-106 tie with 1:07 remaining in overtime.
He also added 11 assists, while Chris Bosh added 22 points for a Heat team that rebounded from back-to-back losses at Detroit and Milwaukee.
“We haven’t been playing particularly well on the road so maybe this will change the dynamic and hopefully we’ll have a paradigm shift in 2013 and we’ll take off and start playing the way we’re capable of on the road,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Wade shrugged off a poor 3-for-10 performance from the free-throw line to finish with 21 points.
With less than 10 seconds to play in overtime he intercepted an inbounds pass from Orlando’s J.J. Redick and jammed home a dunk.
The Heat clawed back from an 11-point third-quarter deficit, and overcame a monster night from the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic, who scored 20 points and grabbed a club-record 29 rebounds.
Shaquille O’Neal had held the Magic’s record for most rebounds in a game at 28.
Despite his efforts, the Magic lost their sixth straight, their longest losing streak since a six-game slide in 2006.