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Richardson's helps Bobcats hurt Pacers' playoff chances

Apr 13, 2008 - 4:12 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Jason Richardson helped deal a colossal blow to the Indiana Pacers' playoff chances.

Richardson had 26 points and three steals as the Charlotte Bobcats posted a 107-103 victory over the Pacers on Saturday.

Rookie Jared Dudley scored a season-high 19 points and Raymond Felton had 18 and 12 assists - including clutch free throws in the final seconds - for Charlotte, which has won two of three.

"We're not trying to be a spoiler for any team. That's not our thought," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "We're in an 82-game NBA schedule and we want to play all 82 games the best we can. These last two, three games you want to come out and fight all the way to the end."

Danny Granger scored a career-high 37 points and Mike Dunleavy had 22 and seven assists for Indiana, but the loss put a dagger in the Pacers' postseason hopes.

Indiana (35-45) is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference - two behind the Atlanta Hawks (37-43) for the final playoff spot in the East with two contests left for both clubs.

"We had the table set, and with Atlanta losing, we just didn't get it done," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "We can only control what we can do, and that's to win at Washington Monday."

Despite owning the tiebreaker over Atlanta and also seeing the Hawks lose to the Boston Celtics, 99-89, Saturday, the Pacers are now one loss or an Atlanta win from missing the playoffs for the second straight year.

"It's frustrating," Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "To come up short on a night where Atlanta lost is probably something we're going to think about for the next couple days. There's not much more you can really say about it."

In this game, the Bobcats led, 84-74, entering the final quarter. However, the Pacers chipped away throughout the final period, cutting their deficit to 101-100 on a 3-pointer by Travis Diener with 63 seconds remaining.

Emeka Okafor, who had 14 points and 18 rebounds, and Felton each converted foul shots to give Charlotte a 105-100 advantage with 24 ticks on the clock.

After Granger drilled his sixth and final shot from the arc with 17 seconds left to make it 105-103, Richardson nailed two more shots from the line with 15 seconds left to complete the scoring.

"I think it shows the growth this team has made from the beginning of the season," Vincent said. "Early in the year, we probably wouldn't have made the same decisions to be able to come up with a win in this game."

Granger said the Pacers waited too long to make their comeback attempt.

"We were playing with fire the whole game," he said. "We slowly came back, but just fell short at the end."

Indiana had three attempts from 3-point range in the final eight seconds, but Marquis Daniels, Diener and Dunleavy each missed from the arc for the losers.

"We had everything to play for, our (playoff) lives were on the line," Granger said. "When a game is that important, there's no reason we shouldn't win it, especially against a team that's already been eliminated."

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