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Richardson, Bobcats escape with fifth straight win

Mar 9, 2008 - 6:09 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Jason Richardson scored 34 points to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to their franchise-best fifth consecutive victory, a 100-97 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

Richardson, who was held without a field goal in the fourth quarter, split a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining and went 1-of-2 from the line five seconds later to secure the win.

"I was running a little low on energy," said Richardson, who took only three shots in the fourth. "That was our fifth game in seven nights and the second night of back-to-back games. I started getting tired toward the end - couldn't really get the ball and get to the basket as I was the first three quarters.

"I was wearing down a little bit, but they were getting up into me and forcing me to drive. Even when I had an (isolation) they were spotting a guy on me, so there was no where to go, but guys like Matt (Carroll) and Ray (Felton) stepped up and picked up the scoring."

Carroll netted 23 points and Felton added 14 points and 12 assists for Charlotte, which avoided a season-series sweep by the Wizards.

Felton made three free throws in the final 56 seconds for the Bobcats, who captured their first win in Washington since April 4, 2007, and improved to 4-12 in the all-time series.

"We was already tired before the game but we wanted it more," Felton said. "That's what it's all about. It feels great to get our fifth straight win, a franchise first."

Bobcats coach Sam Vincent attributed his team's recent success to Felton's aggressive play at the point.

"These guys are moving the ball, and I think Raymond has just been fantastic," Vincent said. "I think a lot of it is credited to ... we just put the ball in Raymond's hands and say, 'Hey, go make it happen,' and he's been doing that."

Felton seconded that sentiment.

"I'm just trying to run the team to the best of my ability, man," Felton said. "Just trying to show these guys that I'm a leader, that I want to be the leader, that I am the leader. I'm just trying to earn that confidence that they believe in me, which all the guys, they already do, that's why we're playing so well.

"They believe that I'm going to get them shots. They believe that I'm going to lead them to a victory and get them into their sets - all those things. If that continues to happen, we're going to be all right."

Antawn Jamison carried the load for the Wizards with 30 points and 10 rebounds. His 3-pointer pulled Washington within 96-94 with 15 seconds left.

But it was a case of too little, too late against the Bobcats, who led by 19 points in the second.

"We're playing with a confidence that I don't think we've had all season long," Carroll said. "We're playing just as a team, unselfishly together. And on the court, it feels different, too, as it did throughout the year."

Charlotte (24-39) is just 2 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks (26-36) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Earl Boykins hit two free throws with 17 seconds left, giving the Bobcats a 96-91 lead. After Carroll hit two foul shots, Jamison tipped in Roger Mason Jr.'s missed 3-pointer to cut Washington's deficit to three.

Felton's three-point play against rookie Nick Young gave the Bobcats an 86-74 lead with 7:26 remaining before the Wizards made things interesting in the finals moments.

DeShawn Stevenson's 3-pointer off the glass pulled Washington to within 89-82 with 2:29 left, and Mason added another shot from the arc to make it a three-point contest with 29 seconds to go.

"We continued to fall, and we came up short in the end," Jamison said. "With the circumstances, and the situations that we are in right now, this was definitely a game that meant a lot for us. To come up short in the end kind of stings right now."

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