The Charlotte Bobcats held the Chicago Bulls to six points in overtime Wednesday to wrap up a 91-86 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena in the finale of the regular season.
Beating the Bulls kept the 43-39 Bobcats’ hopes of rising to sixth in the East alive. That was contingent on the Boston Celtics upsetting the Washington Wizards in a game that started an hour later than the Bobcats’ tipoff and was not finished in time for this edition.
Kemba Walker finished with 22 points, making 10 of 11 free throws. Center Al Jefferson had 10 points and 18 rebounds. Bulls reserve point guard D.J. Augustin had 17 points.
Josh McRoberts and Walker put the game away with just over a minute left in overtime. First McRoberts blocked a long jumper by Augustin. Then Walker took the deflection the length of the court for a layup and a seven-point lead.
Walker opened the scoring in overtime with two free throws. Then Gerald Henderson hit a pull-up jump shot with 21/2 minutes left to make it a four-point margin and push the Bulls into a timeout.
Joakim Noah missed a layup, but Mike Dunleavy grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled by Chris Douglas-Roberts. Dunleavy made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to three.
Walker pulled a cross-over move on Taj Gibson, making a layup and drawing a foul. He missed the free throw, leaving it a five-point lead with 1 minute, 15 seconds remaining.
In the fourth quarter, the Bobcats tied the game at 75 on Douglas-Roberts’ putback and they had a go-ahead possession. But Henderson’s shot was blocked at the rim, setting off a Chicago fast break. Hinrich finished that break with a corner 3-pointer with just under three minutes left.
Down three, Jefferson got Noah off his feet for a foul in the lane for two free throws with 1 minute, 11 seconds left. He made one of two to cut the deficit to two.
The Bulls committed a shot-clock violation on the ensuing possession when Noah never got off a shot in the lane. Hinrich was called for a foul with 35.9 seconds left. It was his sixth, ending his game. Hinrich was replaced by Dunleavy.
Walker made both his free throws off Hinrich’s foul to tie the game at 80. Chicago’s Taj Gibson missed a 17-footer, giving the Bobcats last possession of the fourth quarter. Walker’s jump shot fell off the rim, sending the game into overtime.
The Bulls spread their lead to five with about seven minutes left in regulation on Hinrich’s corner 3-pointer. The Bobcats kept pushing back, with Douglas-Roberts making a 3 off Jeffrerson’s pass out of a low-post double-team.
Jefferson had to leave the game with just over five minutes left in the third quarter, limping. He banged his left knee while blocking a drive by Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. Jefferson went to the training room for examination, but was cleared to return to the game.
The Bulls led 60-59 entering the fourth quarter, Former Duke star Carlos Boozer had six points and seven rebounds that quarter and Butler added eight points.
The Bobcats made up a deficit of as much as 10 in the second quarter to lead 43-39 at halftime. They overcame a relatively quiet half from Jefferson, who started 1-of-5 from the field but ended up with nine points and nine rebounds.
The Bulls, annually an elite defensive team, held the Bobcats to 6-of-20 shooting in the first quarter and 16 points. No Bobcat had more than sixth man Cody Zeller’s four points and the start of the second quarter.
Ex-Bobcat Augustin got hot off the Bulls bench, scoring seven points in 15 minutes. The Bulls pulled ahead 33-23 with just under six minutes left in the half on Augustin’s 10-foot jump shot.
Right around then Jefferson returned to the game, scoring three buckets the rest of the half. The Bobcats made 11 straight shots before missing their last of the half. Zeller had two transition dunks in the run.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell