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Bobcats-Rockets Preview

Apr 8, 2010 - 9:50 PM By ALAN FERGUSON STATS Writer

Charlotte (42-36) at Houston (40-38), 8:30 p.m. EDT

Thanks to D.J. Augustin's pivotal shots, the Charlotte Bobcats clinched their first playoff berth in franchise history. Coach Larry Brown, however, was in no mood to celebrate.

After seeing his team blow a 26-point lead, Brown will try to get a better performance Friday night when the Bobcats attempt to beat the Houston Rockets on the road for the first time in nearly 5 1/2 years.

Charlotte (42-36) appeared to be cruising toward the postseason when it led host New Orleans 60-38 at halftime Wednesday night. The Bobcats, though, were outscored 40-19 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as eight in the fourth.

That's when Augustin stepped up to make a pair of key 3-pointers, hitting the go-ahead shot with 16 seconds left, to help Charlotte win 104-103 in front of his hometown crowd.

"Great year," Augustin said. "The Bobcats have never made the playoffs and it's historic. But we want to stay focused and get ready for the playoffs and try to go farther than just the first round."

Charlotte also clinched the first winning record in the franchise's six seasons and in its second under Brown. That milestone wasn't enough to appease the veteran coach.

"I'm not a happy man," Brown said. "I'm happy for our fans. I'm happy for our franchise. I'm a coach. I always say, 'Celebrate the wins because the losses hurt.' That (performance) hurt."

The Bobcats, winners of seven of nine, have an outside chance to rise as high as fifth in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte is in seventh and trails Milwaukee and Miami by two games with four remaining for all three teams.

Heading to Houston doesn't seem to give the Bobcats a good start toward catching those clubs, as they've lost four in a row there since winning 90-87 on Dec. 22, 2004.

The Bobcats, though, snapped a seven-game slide to the Rockets (40-38) with a 102-94 victory Jan. 12 as Stephen Jackson scored a career-high 43 points.

This time, they'll face a Houston team that's played well even after being eliminated from postseason contention last week. The Rockets are searching for their third straight win overall and at home.

Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks each scored 28 points, and Luis Scola added 24 in a 113-96 victory over Utah on Wednesday night.

After scoring three points in his return from a sprained left shoulder Sunday, Martin had 29 in a 113-103 win at Memphis on Tuesday.

With Martin's help, Houston is averaging 111.8 points in four games this month - 9.7 above its season mark. The Rockets, however, are giving up 111.5 points per game over that span.

Houston will try to improve to 8-4 against Charlotte and move a step closer to its fourth straight winning season.

The Rockets haven't had a run that long since seven in a row from 1990-91 to 1996-97.