CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Just how bad are things for the Charlotte Bobcats? They can't even beat the one team in the NBA they usually count as an automatic win.
Al Harrington scored 19 points and Joe Johnson had his first career triple-double on Wednesday night to lead the Atlanta Hawks
to a 102-92 victory over the Bobcats, who had their franchise-record losing streak extended to 13 games.
The game was a battle between the worst two teams in the league but was still one the hobbled Bobcats thought they could win. They began the night with a 4-1 all-time record against the Hawks -- the only team in the Eastern Conference the Bobcats have a winning record against.
"We can't make anything out of this," coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "The reality is this is who we are. The one thing we have is effort, but we don't match up very well against the teams we are playing. They are better, but we don't capitulate."
With stars Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace on their ridiculously long injured list, the Bobcats never really had a chance. Atlanta led almost the entire game and by as many as 16 midway through the
Charlotte briefly cut it to 93-82 but missed two chances to get even closer when Atlanta came up with consecutive defensive blocks. Then Josh Smith, who will attempt to defend his title in the NBA All-Star dunk contest later this month, seemingly knocked the wind out of the Bobcats on a reverse alley-oop dunk from Johnson with 2:49 to play.
Alan Anderson responded for Charlotte with his own driving dunk that made it 95-84 with 2:33 to play, but it was the last the Bobcats had to offer. Tyronn Lue made a pair of free throws for Atlanta, and then Josh Childress dunked to push the Hawks' lead to 99-84.
"We played hard and we gave it all, we didn't lay down," said Raymond Felton, who led the Bobcats with 20 points. "But it's still a loss. It's our 13th loss in a row and it's tough. It's starting to get depressing.
"When you start getting depressed you just keep losing," he said.
Zaza Pachulia had 18 points for Atlanta and Johnson had 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
"It is a great accomplishment and I look forward to doing more of that," Johnson said. "I'm a versatile player and that allows me to not only score but rebound and get my teammates involved. It makes it easy on myself and the team."
Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said he expects more all-around games out of Johnson.
"The sky's the limit for him because he's untapped," Woodson said. "He has a lot to say about what happens on this team and it's nice to see him get a triple-double. I think that's something he can continue to do."
Smith finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Brevin Knight had 19 points and 10 assists for the Bobcats, who dropped to an NBA-worst 11-36.
Atlanta dominated at the free throw line, making 34-of-41 shots compared to Charlotte's 13-of-17.
"You can't get any momentum when there is a constant parade to the free-throw line, and 41-17 is ridiculous," Bickerstaff said. "Raymond comes to me and says, 'Do you think I am ever going to get a call?' And I said, 'Probably not this year.'"
Although the Robinson experiment didn't work -- he played just over five minutes before leaving with a right ankle sprain -- the rebounding was initially better, especially by Ely. He had five boards in the first half, when the Bobcats battled back from 11 points down to go into the break trailing 45-40.
It earned Ely a spot with the starting five in the second half, but his production tailed off -- he ended with just seven rebounds -- and so did the Bobcats.
The battle of former North Carolina Tar Heels never materialized. Atlanta's Marvin Williams sat out with a sore left Achilles', and Charlotte's Sean May is out indefinitely with a knee injury, leaving the Bobcats' Felton as the only active member from the national champion team. ... Add Rufus, the Bobcats' mascot, to their growing injured list. The orange cat showed up with his arm in a cast and a sling.
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