Season-ending four-game road trip irks Bobcats

Published 2:13 pm Friday, April 10, 2009

By By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE — Gerald Wallace called it ‘‘poor management.’’ It irks coach Larry Brown, too.
As the Charlotte Bobcats barely cling to playoff hopes, they loaded into plane on Thursday to become the first NBA team in 12 years to close the season on a four-game road trip.
Blame it on a horse jumping show that has their home arena covered in dirt — and the NBA schedule maker
Trailing Chicago and Detroit by three games, the only way for Charlotte to make the postseason would be to sweep games at Oklahoma City, Chicago, New Jersey and Orlando and hope the Bulls finish 1-3 or the Pistons 0-4.
The Bobcats’ 12-25 road record makes it even more daunting.
The Bobcats have their arena occupied by the Charlotte Jumper Classic this weekend. It’s a pet project of owner Bob Johnson, whose daughter competes in the event.
Last year the Bobcats went on a three-game road trip during the horse show and returned home for the season finale. The year before it was a two-game trip before the final game was at home.
Even though the dirt will be hauled out of the arena by Tuesday, the NBA kept the Bobcats on the road for this year’s season finale, too.
According to STATS LLC, Charlotte is the first team since the 1996-97 Toronto Raptors to close with four straight on the road. At least it’s not as bad as the 1972-73 Buffalo Braves, who closed with a record eight straight road games.
The Bobcats didn’t take advantage of a cushy early schedule that included 14 of their first 20 at home. That all came before the December acquisitions of Boris Diaw and Raja Bell that made them much better.
Since starting 7-18, the Bobcats have gone 28-25 ahead of their brutal finish in part due to Johnson’s love of horses.
Notes: Bell (strained right calf) walked on a treadmill Thursday and will make the trip. Bell said he might be able to play in the final two games next week if the Bobcats are still in the playoff race. ‘‘I’d like for us to still be alive at that point and have a decision to make,’’ he said.