ATLANTA The consensus among the Charlotte Bobcats was theres no way Ramon Sessions was the last player to touch that inbounds pass with 5.2 seconds left against the Atlanta Hawks.
Understand that wasnt the Bobcats last chance to avoid this loss. Byron Mullens potential game-tying 3-pointer, with three-tenths of a second left, fell off the rim to give the Hawks a 94-91 victory Wednesday night.
But the previous Charlotte possession, with the Bobcats down a point and the holding the ball, ended with Charlottes Ben Gordon and Atlantas Josh Smith both lunging for the ball. The referees ruled neither one touched Sessions pass, which went out-of-bounds.
Forced to foul, the Bobcats sent Al Horford to the line, where he hit two free throws. And that led to the desperate 3-pointer by Mullens that ended the game.
The look was awesome; I couldnt ask for more, Mullens said. The shot felt good. I kind of felt like I was touched, so maybe I over-pressed it a little.
Mullens was the Bobcats third option on that play, according to coach Mike Dunlap. Ben Gordon, who scored a franchise-record 20 points in the fourth quarter, was the first choice. Reggie Williams was the second. When neither one sprang free, Mullens got the ball.
We got an open 3, Dunlap said. Byron got a good look at it.
But wouldnt their chances have been so much better without the previous turnover? The Bobcats say it wasnt a turnover. Sessions said with conviction Smith touched the pass.
Looking up at the Jumbotron (for a replay), I thought the ball definitely took a different path, said Sessions, who scored 18 points.
Gordon and Mullens expressed similar views, though each acknowledged the replay might not have been conclusive enough evidence to reverse the call.
That made this a close loss for a 7-7 team, not the breakthrough road victory it might have been. Certainly it was a vast improvement on Mondays 114-69 thumping by the Thunder in Oklahoma City. So the Bobcats came away encouraged, if not satisfied.
Its very important we played this game the way we did, after getting clobbered, said Mullens, who chipped in 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. We got to the last shot. Well take it. Well live with it.
Gordon, who finished with 26 points, was spectacular. He has a reputation for scoring in bunches and this certainly applied. He set team records for most 3s in a quarter (five) and tied the team record for 3s in a game with seven.
I had moments when I was in the zone, but it was really more seeking out my shot, Gordon said. Trying to be more aggressive and my teammates did a great job of finding me.