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Jefferson’s 29 lead Bobcats past Sixers

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Center Al Jefferson scored 29 points and the Charlotte Bobcats clamped down defensively in the second half of a 111-105 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

   Jefferson added 12 rebounds and three assists for his sixth consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound effort and his seventh straight double-double, which is the third longest double-double streak in Bobcats history.

“You could tell that we were low-energy, but we found a way to (win), so I guess that’s the positive about it,” Jefferson said.

   Jefferson, who has been the focal point of a full-court press for All-NBA recognition by the Bobcats, paced Charlotte early, knocking down seven of his first nine shots from the field and scoring 21 of his 29 in the first half.

   Bobcats point guard Luke Ridnour got the start for the second straight game with starter Kemba Walker out while nursing a groin injury. Ridnour filled in with a strong effort, contributing 12 points and eight assists. Jannero Pargo shared point-guard duties and added six points and two assists.

“Those guys are pro point guards, he and Jennero,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. “They’ve been around and played in a lot of games. Kemba’s injury is unfortunate in many ways, but it’s good from the standpoint that they both got extra minutes and again, a week from now, you never know, you could need both of them, so I think that’s been positive.”

Clifford said Walker will work out Sunday and his availability for Monday’s game at Atlanta will be based on the shootaround. Walker is playing some of his best basketball in three years in the league, scoring 20-plus points in eight of his last 12 games.

   All nine Charlotte players who saw action scored and seven reached double figures. Guard Gerald Henderson filled out the stat sheet for the Bobcats with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists.

   Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams continues to be a bright-spot for the Sixers. He posted 23 points, including 10 from the free-throw line, and added eight assists to continue his push for NBA Rookie of the Year consideration.

“It would mean a lot to me, my team and the city of Philadelphia,” Carter-Williams said of winning the award. “Bringing something positive is always great. My teammates have done a great job putting me in that position. And my coach has done an unbelievable job trusting me and putting me in the right position.”

   The Sixers had six players score in double figures, including forward Thaddeus Young with 14 points but on 8-of-22 shooting from the field.

   For the second game in as many nights, the Bobcats faced a lottery-bound team in the Eastern Conference. But a strong defensive effort in the second half resulted in a different outcome than the 106-103 loss on Friday in Boston.

   Clifford expressed confidence his team would play better defensively before the game, but at halftime Philadelphia was shooting 52 percent from the field and leading 59-56. 

   The Bobcats locked down defensively in the second half, outscoring the Sixers 55-46 and holding Philadelphia to 36 percent shooting from the field during that span. It was the seventh time in the last 11 games that the Bobcats have scored 100 points or more, with five of those seven resulting in wins.

 The 76ers erased a 16-point deficit to climb within four with under two minutes to play and Philadelphia coach Brett Brown liked the fight in his team.

“They are trying to find a way to contribute to a group,” Brown said. “They are good teammates, good people, playing hard. I am proud of them.”

   The win pushed the Bobcats’ record to 41-39 overall and 6-1 in the last seven games. Clifford was proud of what the win represents,

“41 wins to me is a big deal,” he said. “To have 41 and know that at worst we’ll finish .500. I’m just proud of the guys and to me that’s a big deal for us. It’s a good night for the Bobcats.”

The victory also was Charlotte’s 24th at home, the second most in franchise history. Thirteen of those have come in the last 15 games. 

   Philadelphia is 17-63 and has lost six of its last seven since snapping a NBA-record-tying 26-game losing streak. 

   NOTES: The Bobcats have won 13 of their last 15 games at home. … Charlotte is 6-1 in its last seven games as it jockeys for playoff position. … Bobcats rookie coach Steve Clifford applauded the work of his friend Brett Brown, who is in his first year leading the 76ers. “The thing that stands out to me, when you have a season like that, the No. 1 thing you have to try to do is get them to try every night,” Clifford said before the game. The 76ers have gone 2-5 in their last seven games after tying the NBA record for consecutive losses at 26 in a row. Clifford added things are not as dire as they seem in Philadelphia. “If you look at their scores over the last four or five weeks, they’re in every game. And then when you watch them play, it’s their energy level and their effort. He’s done a remarkable job.” … Charlotte will play its final two games before the franchise begins its second-ever NBA playoff run. The Bobcats play at Atlanta on Monday and closes the regular season at home against Chicago on Wednesday. … Philadelphia will play the Celtics in Boston on Monday and close the season at first-place Miami on Wednesday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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