- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Charlotte Bobcats have relied heavily on Al Jefferson to put them in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

On Saturday night, they proved they could win without their veteran center having a big night.

“It shows that we have other guys that can step up,” point guard Kemba Walker said.

With Jefferson double-teamed most of the night, Walker elevated his game, pouring in 31 points to help the Bobcats defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 92-89 for their fourth win in five nights.

Charlotte is 4-0 since the All-Star break, marking its longest winning streak since March 2011.

The Bobcats won despite Jefferson being held to just six points - tying a season-low - on 2-of-13 shooting. Jefferson came in having scored 29 or more points in eight of his last 11 games and at least 20 points in 17 of the last 19.

The Bobcats used an 18-3 run in the fourth quarter to break open a tight game and then held on down the stretch with Walker making four free throws in the final 25 seconds to snap Memphis’ four-game win streak. It was the second straight night Walker hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal a victory.

“I shoot so many free throws in practice I’m just thinking, “Hey, make them,’” said Walker, who was 10 of 10 from the foul line.

Charlotte had lost the second night of a back-to-back eight straight times before winning two this week.

“To win four in a row against good teams and to play this well in a game like that that was hard fought, you have to feel good about it,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

But now the Bobcats face a four-game stretch against the NBA’s four best teams - San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Miami and Indiana - with the first three games on the road.

The Grizzlies were led by Mike Conley, who had 16 points, but twice missed 3-point attempts when he had a chance to tie the game on Memphis’ final possession.

Marc Gasol had 15 points, and Zac Randolph had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, which fell two games behind Dallas in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Bobcats trailed 66-64 early in the fourth quarter when Anthony Tolliver got hot from the outside, igniting an 18-3 run with three 3-pointers to give Charlotte a 13-point lead. Tolliver finished with nine points.

The Grizzlies battled back to take the lead when Conley knocked down an 18-footer with 51 seconds left.

Story Continues →