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NBA: Bobcats get friendlier schedule

Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó The horses will come to town a different weekend in 2010, leaving the Charlotte Bobcats with a much friendlier season-ending schedule.
The 82-game slate for 2009-10 released Tuesday puts the Bobcats at home for two of their final three games and eight of the last 12. It’s in stark contrast to last season, when the Bobcats became the first NBA team in 12 years to close with a four-game road trip due to the Charlotte Jumper Classic equestrian event.
The arena conflict irked coach Larry Brown and several players, and the Bobcats’ faint playoff hopes were extinguished with an 0-4 finish. Next year the horse event will be held in November, allowing the Bobcats to close at home on April 14 against Chicago.
The Charlotte Jumper Classic was created by Bobcats owner Bob Johnson, whose daughter is an equestrian and has competed in the event. The Bobcats closed 2007-08 with three of four on the road.
“He clearly wanted to get it out of the last week of the season,” Bobcats president Fred Whitfield said of Johnson. “We just wanted to be able to put in as many (open) dates as possible and hope that we get a very balanced schedule. … Clearly having eight of our last 12 games at home is something we feel great about.”
The Bobcats open the season at Boston on Oct. 28. The home opener is two nights later against New York, then the Bobcats visit Cleveland on Oct. 31.
The Bobcats’ longest homestand is six games from Jan. 9-20, including a matinee vs. former Bobcat Sean May and Sacramento on the Jan. 18, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Charlotte has a six-game West Coast trip Jan. 25-Feb. 3.
The Bobcats twice play home games on consecutive nights, including when Kobe Bryant and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers visit on March 5, followed by Golden State and former Davidson star Stephen Curry a night later.
Emeka Okafor, who was traded to New Orleans last week, will make his only appearance with the Hornets on Feb. 6.
LeBron James and Cleveland visit Charlotte on Nov. 27 and Feb. 19.
The Bobcats are not scheduled to appear on TNT or ESPN. They do have four games scheduled for NBA TV.

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