Except when it mattered most.
When Melvin Ely missed badly on the potential go-ahead basket, Gerald Wallace swooped in to grab the ball in the air and slam it in with 7.7 seconds to play and put the Bobcats ahead for good in their 104-101 victory over the Warriors on Wednesday night.
“I knew Coach had told us when the shot goes up, everybody go to the board,” Wallace said. “I was just lucky. The shot fell short and I was right there for it.”
Wallace’s rebound was a rare one for Charlotte, which was beaten 53-34 on the boards. But despite Golden State’s impressive 32 defensive rebounds, the Warriors faltered down the stretch to lose their sixth straight road game, and 17th of their last 20.
“Wins are hard to come by for us anywhere right now,” Golden State coach Mike Montgomery said. “We’re in a situation where momentum seems to be spinning backwards on us. We did everything we needed to do essentially except win the game.”
Jumaine Jones scored 29 points, including a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds to play to lead the Bobcats. But he credited Wallace’s important rebound and ensuing dunk for the victory.
“That was the most important thing we needed, a rebound,” Jones said. “We had struggled all game. They killed us on the glass, but we got a rebound that we needed it.”
Charlotte went into the fourth quarter trailing 81-76, but quickly made up the deficit and took its first lead at 85-84. The teams seesawed from there until Jason Richardson’s shot danced around the rim and over the back of the basket to give the Bobcats the ball trailing 101-100.
The Bobcats then set up for their final shot, which turned into Ely’s miss. Jokingly asked if the play was designed as an alley-oop, Wallace stood up to make sure Ely had already gone home for the night before answering.
“That was an airball,” Wallace smiled.
Baron Davis missed at the other end for Golden State, Jones got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He made both his free throws—his only attempts of the game—to lock up the victory.
“We just have to continue to play hard like we’ve been doing and dig ourselves out of this hole,” said Jason Richardson, who led Golden State with 27 points. “We just need to learn how to finish up games.”
The Bobcats sell the first two seats on their bench, but referee Bill Kennedy apparently thought one of the men sitting in them was an assistant coach: He called him for a technical foul for criticizing the officiating. The foul was rescinded when Kennedy realized the remarks came from fan Skipper Beck, a part-owner of the Bobcats. … The game marked the return to Charlotte for Baron Davis, who began his career here in 1999 playing for the Hornets. Davis, who played 30 minutes off the bench because of a lingering right ankle sprain, was thrilled to see the NBA return to Charlotte. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful situation,” he said. “I’m really glad they got a team again, after the way things ended. Charlotte deserves to be an NBA city.” … Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who is also the general manager, plans to scout at the Big 12 tournament in Dallas on Thursday and Friday.