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Bobcats win fifth straight as Wallace sprains ankle

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In past seasons, when Charlotte Bobcats All-Star forward Gerald Wallace went out with an injury, the whole team struggled.

Teammate Stephen Jackson said this team is different, as shown by the Bobcats' 106-98 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

"This was a game we needed to win," said Jackson, who scored 24 points. "It was ugly, especially after Gerald went down. But we found a way to win ... we had to focus on winning this game. We had guys step up that needed to step up."

Boris Diaw added 16 points, Tyson Chandler 13 and Raymond Felton had 10 points and 11 assists for the Bobcats, who won their fifth straight. They shot 54 percent from the field and forced the Clippers into 23 turnovers as they chase the first playoff berth in franchise history.

"Any time you get a team to turn the ball over, you are going to get good shots," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "When we were struggling offensively, we got a couple of steals that bailed us out. The more possessions you can create for your team, the better."

Baron Davis scored 24 points for Los Angeles, which lost its six straight game and eighth in the last nine despite shooting 57.5 percent. The Clippers are also 0-3 since general manager Mike Dunleavy was fired.

"We don't share the ball enough," Los Angeles coach Kim Hughes said. "I think when they double-teamed us, we held the ball too long. We have to be more unselfish when we get trapped. They scored 32 points off of our turnovers, and you can't win that way."

Rasual Butler added 18 points, Travis Outlaw and Drew Gooden had 16 apiece and Chris Kaman 13 for the Clippers.

Wallace, the Bobcats' leading rebounder and No. 2 scorer, scored 17 points in the first half before spraining his left ankle on a flagrant foul by Davis late in the second quarter.

Wallace was driving for a fast-break layup after a steal when Davis grabbed him around the waist and knocked him to the floor with 1.5 seconds remaining. Wallace -- who was unavailable for comment after the game -- laid there for several minutes, holding his head as team medical personnel worked on him, but he returned to hit a free throw and stake the Bobcats to a 16-point halftime lead.

"He was going so fast to the hole that I was just trying to cut him off," Davis said. "I had no intentions of trying to hurt him or flagrant foul somebody, especially when they're fighting for a playoff position. ... I was just trying to give a foul to stop a basket. I guess his momentum was just carrying him too fast, and I kind of misjudged it."

The Bobcats built their lead as high as 18 points in the third quarter, going ahead 74-56 on Chandler's dunk with 4:40 remaining. But without Wallace in the lineup, Charlotte appeared to lack energy at times, allowing the Clippers to get within 101-94 on Davis' 3-pointer with 2:19 left in the game.

However, Jackson put the win away for the Bobcats with a 3-pointer with 1:58 left that pushed Charlotte's lead back into double figures, followed by a fast-break dunk 20 seconds later to put them ahead 106-94.

"We just turned it up," Diaw said. "Obviously, it's different when [Wallace is] on the court because he brings a lot to the team, but I think we played pretty good. ... Every game is important from now on. We'll take each game one by one, and try to win every one."

The Bobcats shot 56.8 percent from the field (25 of 44) in the first half and led by 11 points early in the second quarter before Outlaw hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull the Clippers within 40-35 with 7:51 remaining. Charlotte closed the period with a 13-4 run to take a 61-45 lead into halftime.

Game notes
Wallace's status for Charlotte's next game, at Orlando on Sunday, is uncertain, according to Brown. "The X-ray was negative, but they're going to see what happens tomorrow," he added. "We've got a challenge on our hands now. I don't know that anybody could have played any better than he played in those 19 minutes he was in the game." ... Brown denied a Philadelphia Inquirer report that he had counseled 76ers owner Ed Snider not to fire coach Eddie Jordan before the end of the season. "No, I've no direct conversations," with Snider, Brown said during his pregame press conference. "(But) I've got friends there that ask me my opinion. That franchise means a lot to me, and I don't like to see anybody in our league get fired." ... Michael Jordan missed his first home game since agreeing to buy majority control of the Bobcats from current owner Bob Johnson. He was in Indianapolis, watching oldest son Jeff's Illinois team upset No. 13 Wisconsin 58-54 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. ... Charlotte C DeSagana Diop was a late scratch from Friday's game, and will miss at least the next three games while undergoing tests to determine the cause of dizziness he suffered during a workout Thursday, team officials said.