CHARLOTTE ó Gerald Henderson scored the final seven points, including the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left, and the short-handed Charlotte Bobcats staged an unlikely comeback to beat the mistake-prone Milwaukee Bucks 87-86 on Monday night.
Starting with no available centers before losing their top two point guards to injuries, the Bobcats remained in playoff contention after Brandon Jennings missed two layups and a 3-pointer in the final 15 seconds that would have put the Bucks ahead.
Stephen Jackson scored 18 points for the Bobcats, who held Milwaukee scoreless over the final 3:52.
Jennings and Andrew Bogut had 26 points apiece for the Bucks, who lost their second straight and continued an alarming trend of blowing fourth-quarter leads.
This one may have been the most head-scratching of all.
At the end, the Bobcats had power forward Boris Diaw playing center, small forward Jackson at power forward and Garrett Temple, who was in the NBA Development League earlier this month, running the offense.
And they still somehow won to remain one game behind Indiana for the Eastern Conferenceís final playoff spot. The Bucks fell three games behind the Pacers.
The Bobcats got within 86-85 on Hendersonís jumper with 52 seconds left. After Bogut missed a contested layup, Henderson drilled a turnaround from the right wing to put Charlotte ahead 87-86.
Jennings then missed a wide-open driving layup before Henderson grabbed a rebound in a wild scramble and called timeout from the floor. But Jennings then stole Diawís inbounds pass before missing another layup in traffic.
The Bucks, who held a 46-37 rebounding edge, grabbed the loose ball and Jennings missed a 3 from the left corner. Carlos Delfino then grabbed Milwaukeeís 17th offensive rebound, but his tip bounced off the rim as time expired.
It was another stirring win for the Bobcats, who appeared out of the playoff race following a 23-point loss to Indiana last week, Since then, Charlotte has knocked off Boston, New York and Milwaukee.
Starting point guard D.J. Augustin left with a sprained left ankle and backup Shaun Livingston was lost to a bruised lower spine in just over a minute span early in the fourth quarter. The last man standing was Temple, who was signed for the remainder of the season Monday morning.
Henderson, who moved into the starting lineup when Gerald Wallace was traded last month, scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting for the Bobcats, who had little to work with inside.
Starting center Kwame Brown left the team Monday afternoon to be with his ill daughter in Georgia. With Joel Przybilla (knee) and DeSagana Diop (Achillesí tendon) already sidelined and Nazr Mohammed traded to Oklahoma City last month, the Bobcats had no centers left.
Power forward Tyrus Thomas, returning after missing two games with bruised ribs, started in the middle and was ineffective. Bogut had 18 points in the first quarter and 26 as the Bucks were up 72-65 entering the third quarter in the season debut of former All-Star Michael Redd.
When John Salmons picked up two quick fouls, Redd replaced him with 9:54 left in the first quarter in his first appearance in 14 months following his second major left knee injury.
Playing without a knee brace, Redd had two stints in each half. He didnít score, missing all three shots while dishing out four assists in 15 minutes.
Notes: Bobcats coach Paul Silas wouldnít be surprised if Przybilla, out since March 9, misses the rest of the season. … Skiles said before the game itís been frustrating for all not finding a go-to guy in the clutch. ěWeíve had a hard time establishing a hierarchy of where weíre going to go for key plays,î he said. ěOur futility late in games has definitely bothered guys.î
The Associated Press