Primoz Brezec had a career-high 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bobcats to one of their most surprising wins of the season, a 94-92 victory over the Miami Heat last night in Charlotte.
After leading almost the entire game, the Bobcats went almost three minutes without a basket and watched the Heat pull within 90-87. Then Brezec broke the drought with his biggest basket of the game, an off-balance, 18-foot jumper that gave the Bobcats a 92-87 lead with 57 seconds to play.
"I was just trying to win the game," he said. "We've lost so many games in the final seconds."
Clinging to a 94-91 lead, Jason Hart fouled Miami's Dwyane Wade, who went to the line and made his first free throw with four seconds to play. He missed the second and got his own rebound, but his three-pointer from the corner missed at the buzzer.
The Bobcats celebrated, jumping all over the court.
Shaquille O'Neal led the Heat with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Wade finished with 19 points, but had teammate Eddie Jones in his face after the game telling him his final attempt didn't need to be a three.
Despite having just 15 wins in their first season, the Bobcats have made a habit of beating some of the better teams in the league at home. Aside from wins over Minnesota, Houston and Denver, Charlotte also has victories over defending NBA champion Detroit and now the Heat.
The Bobcats sold out the arena for the third time this season. The crowd gave a boisterous ovation to Miami's Alonzo Mourning, a former Charlotte Hornet, when he checked into the game.
TIMBERWOLVES 96, NETS 75: Sam Cassell had such a good game, he may have earned back his old job as Minnesota's starting point guard -- even though Coach Kevin McHale wasn't willing to make that declaration yet.
Cassell played his best game in weeks, scoring 23 points in just 22 minutes for visiting Minnesota.
A hamstring injury caused Cassell to miss eight of 13 games this month.
"If he decides to put me back in the starting lineup, that's fine," Cassell said. "But it doesn't matter who starts, it's who finishes. I know I'm going to be on the court in the fourth quarter."
The win was the Wolves' first in an afternoon game this season.
SUNS 118, MAGIC 116: Shawn Marion had 27 points and 14 rebounds and Steve Nash added 23 points and 12 assists for visiting Phoenix. Meantime, the Magic has lost 10 of its last 11 games. Grant Hill had 26 points and Steve Francis, playing his first game after a three-game suspension, added 17 points.