|Bobcats stop skid on Jefferson's birthday|
|Charlotte tops Kings, center scores 27|
|Published Sunday, January 5, 2014 10:07 am|
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Soaking his feet in a tub of ice in a happy locker room, Al Jefferson was smiling for two reasons Saturday evening.
The veteran forward came up big in the fourth quarter to preserve a Charlotte Bobcats victory and had done it on his 29th birthday.
Kemba Walker scored 30 points and Jefferson had a season-high 27 points and nine rebounds, and the Bobcats snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 113-103 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Jefferson was the go-to guy for Charlotte in the fourth quarter, making 4 of 5 shots, scoring 10 points, and adding four rebounds and a block.
"It was very important to get this win, but even better because it was my birthday," said Jefferson, who came to Charlotte as a free agent this summer. "I'm 2-0 in my last two birthdays."
The Bobcats had lost their previous two games by a combined 57 points, but took the lead for good with 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. The win helped ease the pain of a 1-4 road trip that started with an overtime loss to Atlanta and three-point defeat in Utah.
Against the Kings, Charlotte tied a season-high with 45 made field goals and shot a season-best 54 percent. The Bobcats hit 9 of 15 3-pointers.
"It was one of best games offensively this season," Charlotte first-year coach Steve Clifford said. "We had balance, we made a bunch of 3s, we posted up and we ran our pick-and-roll well. Kemba had a great night and Al played well too."
DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 11 rebounds and Isaiah Thomas added 21 points and eight assists for the Kings, who are 6-13 at home this season. Rudy Gay had 17 points and a season-best 10 rebounds, and Jason Thompson contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds.
After impressive wins against Miami and Houston last month, the Kings hoped to put together a good stretch at home.
But Sacramento lost in an uninspired effort against Philadelphia on Thursday and didn't look energized against Charlotte either.
"It's disappointing — we're not defending. You look at Philadelphia and we didn't defend for three quarters, but tried to defend in the fourth quarter," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "Tonight, they scored 65 points and shot 64 percent from the field in the first half. Kemba and Al Jefferson got what they wanted tonight. It's becoming a broken record."
Gerald Henderson scored 16 points for the Bobcats, who were embarrassed in a 134-104 loss Thursday night in Portland. Ramon Sessions had 12 points and Chris Douglas-Roberts added 10.
Walker, who had six points on 2-of-10 shooting against Portland, made 12 of 19 against the Kings and added six assists. He had four 3-pointers, all in the third quarter when the Bobcats withstood a Sacramento rally.
"I didn't play so well in Portland, so I wanted to come out and get my rhythm back," Walker said. "I wanted to play well tonight. It was important to get this win for our confidence. This was a big win for us."
After the Kings cut the lead to four points, Jefferson scored on Cousins' goal tend and then made a short jump hook, giving Charlotte an eight-point lead. After Thompson made a free throw for Sacramento, Jefferson extended the lead to 109-100 with an 18-footer with 1:56 left.
Gay tipped in his own shot and Cousins followed with a basket from close range, pulling Sacramento to within 99-96 at the 6:09 mark.
"Guys cannot shoot that high of a percentage. Especially, early on in our building," Thompson said. "It's easier said than done, but we just can't talk about it. We have to be about it. No disrespect to (Charlotte), but we can't play to the level of the competition."
After a subpar first half, Cousins got going in the third quarter when he scored 16 points and helped cut the Bobcats' 13-point halftime lead to 89-82 entering the fourth. Walker hit four 3-pointers and also had 16 points in the third.
Jefferson scored 15 first-half points for the Bobcats, who led 65-50.
Charlotte, which shot 64 percent, went on a 17-2 run in the final 4:37 of the half. Walker had 11 points and Henderson added 10.
Gay and Thompson both scored 14 points in the first half for the Kings.
NOTES: The Bobcats shot nearly 64 percent in the opening quarter and led 32-27. ... Walker and Henderson have been the starting guards every game thus far for Charlotte. ... Thompson's 14 points in the first surpassed his previous season-high of 12. ... Thomas extended his consecutive 3-point streak to 26 games.
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