The rookie scored a career-high 30 points and the Bobcats held off a second-half rally to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-102 on Saturday night.
Less than 24 hours after a triple-overtime victory over the Lakers, Charlotte (9-21) won consecutive games for the first time this season and improved to 3-11 on the road.
“Obviously we were tired,” Morrison said. “In high school, we used to play five games a day sometimes in the summer, so we can’t really use that as an excuse. … That’s what we’re paid to do.”
Emeka Okafor finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks, Matt Carroll scored 18 points and Raymond Felton had a career-high 19 assists for the Bobcats, who were playing their fourth game in a five-day span.
“There’s no mercy in this league,” Okafor said. “You just have to suck it up and play.”
Jermaine O’Neal had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Danny Granger scored 17 points and Jamaal Tinsley chipped in 15 for Indiana (17-15), which lost at Conseco Fieldhouse for the third time in its last four games.
Indiana coach Rick Carlisle was ejected following his second technical foul with 10:14 left in the third quarter. Carlisle was arguing a technical that had been called on Pacers guard Stephen Jackson after a hard foul on Morrison.
“It’s struggling when everything out there is not going right,” said Jackson, who finished with 14 points. “There was a lot of stuff going on tonight that we couldn’t overcome.”
The Pacers fought back in the third quarter after Primoz Brezec’s jumper gave Charlotte a 13-point lead with 8 minutes left. Tinsley scored seven straight points, including a steal and layup to bring Indiana within 69-65.
The Pacers took a 72-71 lead following O’Neal’s free throw, but Charlotte jumped back in front 79-75 on Derek Anderson’s two free throws late in the period.
Indiana started the fourth quarter with five straight points to take an 82-79 advantage. The Bobcats responded with the next seven points to open a four-point lead.
Charlotte began to pull away following Okafor’s dunk and Sean May’s jumper with 5 minutes left, putting the Bobcats ahead 98-90. Morrison’s 3-pointer with 3:25 remaining gave Charlotte a 101-92 edge.
“We lost the lead, but nobody really faltered,” Okafor said. “Coach (Bernie Bickerstaff) just said, ‘Come on man, stop messing around and get it done.’ So we did.”
Bickerstaff was pleased with his team’s effort down the stretch.
“To win here in Indiana with this crowd after losing the lead and keeping our composure—we’re really proud of our team,” he said.
Carlisle, on the other hand, said the Pacers need to improve before playing at Dallas on Jan. 4.
“We didn’t establish ourselves with force defensively,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but I’m not ready to give up on these guys.”
Behind Morrison’s 17 points in the first half, the Bobcats took a 54-50 advantage into the break. Charlotte took its biggest lead of the half, 49-41, following a pair of free throws by Morrison with 3:37 left in the second quarter.
Former Pacers player and current assistant coach Johnny Davis took over for Carlisle after his ejection. … Charlotte F Gerald Wallace got a technical early in the second quarter and Felton picked one up in the third. … Wallace left the game in the fourth quarter with a separated right shoulder after Pacers C Jeff Foster fell on him chasing down a rebound. Wallace did not return. … Bobcats G Brevin Knight missed his fifth straight game with a torn abdominal muscle. Knight was averaging 11.9 points and 7.3 assists before the injury. … The Bobcats other road wins were at San Antonio and New Jersey.