Charlotte clinches playoff spot in win over Cleveland
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Charlotte Bobcats are going back to the postseason for just the second time in franchise history after a 96-94 overtime triumph against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.
Al Jefferson scored seven of his 24 points in the extra session and also pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds to help the Bobcats clinch a playoff berth for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Kemba Walker tallied 20 points despite shooting 7-for-23 from the floor and Gerald Henderson added 15 points for Charlotte.
Kyrie Irving's career-high 44 point effort went for naught as the Cavs playoff chances have all but diminished. Irving also finished with eight assists and seven rebounds in the setback.
Cleveland trails Atlanta by 3 1/2 games for eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race with just four games remaining.
Dion Waiters was the only other Cavs player to record double digits in scoring with 14 points.
Spencer Hawes' jumper with just over three minutes left in regulation gave the Cavs a 78-74 lead.
Tyler Zeller followed a Jefferson jumper with a layup to push Charlotte in front, 79-78, with 1:05 left in the fourth.
Irving quickly answered with a layup, but Walker countered at the other end with a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game with 32.9 seconds left.
Irving then raced up the court and tied the game at 82-apiece seven seconds later. He then intuitively fouled Walker with 4.7 ticks left as the Cavs had a foul to give, and Walker's jumper from the key missed as the buzzer sounded.
Irving scored the first seven points for Cleveland in the overtime period, the last of which gave it n 89-86 advantage with 1:55 left.
Jefferson, Henderson and Walker all followed with a pair of points to help the Bobcats to a 92-89 edge.
Waiters then hit a pair from the line and Walker split two free throws to keep the door open for the hosts.
Irving curled off a pick, received the inbounds pass and missed a wide-open 3- pointer with 8.9 seconds left.
Henderson knocked down a pair at the line and Hawes answered at the other end with a 3 to cut the deficit to 95-94 with 4.9 ticks on the clock.
Jefferson split a pair a the line and Hawes' desperation heave from 3/4 court was no good as Charlotte held on.
Earlier, Waiters' jumper with just over five minutes left in the second quarter gave the Cavs a slim 31-29 lead.
The Bobcats proceeded to outscore Cleveland, 11-2, over the final 3:44 of the period to take a 40-33 into halftime. The Cavs, however, led 66-62 after three quarters of play.
Charlotte was one game behind Orlando for the worst record in the league last season ... There were 14 lead changes and 12 ties ... Charlotte had a 58-51 edge on the boards ... The Bobcats have won five straight over the Cavs which matches the longest winning streak over Cleveland. They also won five straight over the Cavs from Nov. 27-2009-March 30, 2011.
04/06 00:43:21 ET