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Felton, Bobcats earn fourth straight win

Mar 8, 2008 - 4:46 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Things are starting to look up in "The Queen City."

Raymond Felton had 23 points and 11 assists to lead a balanced attacked as the Charlotte Bobcats posted a 108-93 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

Matt Carroll netted 21 points and Emeka Okafor added 16 and 15 rebounds for the Bobcats, who shot a blistering 51 percent (42-of-82) from the floor and made 9-of-17 3-pointers.

The win marked their first four-game winning streak since rolling off four in a row from February 14-23 last season. Charlotte (23-39) is just three games behind New Jersey (26-36) for the final playoff spot in the East.

"Things are going pretty well," Felton said. "We're definitely looking at the playoffs. It's still within reach. The fans were into it. The crowd was great. We're doing the little things that we weren't doing before. Guys are playing with confidence."

"Things are in a nice groove right now," Carroll said. "We're playing well together. We're very confident, too. To get this winning streak going means a lot to this team right now. We all know how to play."

What makes the Bobcats' recent success so impressive is that they are doing it without star swingman Gerald Wallace, who has missed the last six contests due to a concussion.

Wallace is expected to return to action next week.

Charlotte guard Jason Richardson's offensive assault was quieted for a night, as he poured in just 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Over his last four games, Richardson had performances of 30, 30, 25 and a season-high 42 points.

Holding just a one-point lead, the Bobcats took control of this one for good in the third quarter behind an aggressive 13-3 run which was capped by Carroll's shot from the arc.

"It feels great. We're playing great team ball," Richardson said. "I had a rough night, but Matt Carroll, Jared Dudley, Earl Boykins, they stepped up. It was another team win. It's a big win against the division.

"Everyone's giving a team effort. Of course, we are thinking playoffs. We're not going to give up until the end of the season."

Mike Bibby's 18-footer, which opened the fourth, brought the Hawks within 78-71. But the Bobcats responded with a 17-8 burst to forge a 15-point cushion with 7:35 remaining.

"We had to play a strong fourth quarter to try and win the ballgame and we didn't do that," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said.

All-Star Joe Johnson had 20 points while first-round pick Al Horford continued to push for Rookie of the Year honors with 18 and 11 rebounds for Atlanta, which has dropped four straight.

"Playing good basketball for two quarters isn't going to get it," Johnson said. "We have to play hard for 48 minutes. It seems like we don't respect a lot of teams in this league. Unless we change that mindset, we will be going home on April 16."

The Hawks (24-36) are one game behind the Nets in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

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