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Richardson stays hot, leads Bobcats past Timberwolves

Mar 5, 2008 - 5:27 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) - Jason Richardson is giving Charlotte Bobcats' fans something to cheer about in an otherwise lost season.

Richardson scored 25 points to lead the Bobcats to a 109-89 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old swingman has been playing like an All-Star of late, averaging 28.3 points over the past three games on 42 percent (28-of-67) shooting. The former Slam Dunk champion has gone over 25 points eight times in the past 13 games.

"It's big for us," Richardson said. "It's been a tough season on the road this year and, to get a road victory the way we did tonight, with everyone playing, everybody contributing, that's big for us."

Tuesday's victory gives Charlotte two wins in a row - but just three in its last 15 games. Gerald Wallace, who leads the team with a 20.6 points per game scoring average, has played in just three of the last 15 contests.

"That's 21 points we're missing every night," Richardson said about Wallace. "I'm picking it up, (rookie forward) Jared Dudley is picking it up, Raymond Felton is picking it up, we're all trying to pick up the 21 points a night we are missing from him."

The Timberwolves, who own the worst record in the Western Conference, put up a fight until late in the third quarter, tying the game at 71-71 on Greg Buckner's 3-pointer with 4:43 remaining in the period. But the Bobcats finished the quarter on a 9-4 run, capped off by two consecutive 3-pointers from Richardson.

"I think our defense picked up," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "I think our defense got a little bit more aggressive, I think we started denying passing lanes just a little bit more.

"Our defense has been a little inconsistent throughout the year but, when we play our defense well, we are a pretty good defensive team. And I thought from about that point in the game, defensively, we got after them a little bit more and that made a difference."

They extended the lead to 90-77 with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter on six unanswered points by Dudley and were never threatened again.

Richardson scored seven points in the final 6:03 to seal the win.

Emeka Okafor finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds and Matt Carroll added 18 points for Charlotte, which shot 51 percent (38-of-74) from the floor, including 10-of-20 from the arc.

"I think one thing is that our chemistry has been good lately," Carroll said. "We're all pulling for each other and wanting to see each other do well."

Al Jefferson led the way with 18 points, Ryan Gomes added 17 and Randy Foye chipped in 16 for Minnesota, which has lost four in a row.

"This was the most disappointing loss we've had in a while." Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "How we came out to start the play really did not carry through 48 minutes tonight. We played aggressive (in a 111-108 overtime loss) against Seattle (on Sunday) but tonight we had a non-aggression pact with the other team."

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