Bobcats 104, Knicks 87
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Gerald Wallace was a step quicker—and about a foot higher—than everyone else.
Wallace scored 17 of his career-high 42 points in the fourth quarter, including four rim-rattling dunks, and the Charlotte Bobcats pulled away from cold-shooting New York for a 104-87 victory over the Knicks on Wednesday night.
Wallace hit a 3-pointer, a free throw and had a thunderous jam in an 8-0 run that put Charlotte ahead 97-82 with 2:44 left. He made 14 of 22 shots and 11 of 17 free throws, besting his previous career-best night by a point.
“That’s phenomenal,” teammate Derek Anderson said. “We found a guy and we rode him.”
Raymond Felton added 16 points and 10 assists, including two alley-oop feeds to Wallace, as the Bobcats won for the 12th time in 19 games.
“All they have to do is get the ball above the rim and I’ll go get it,” Wallace said.
Nobody from the Knicks could keep up with Wallace, despite switching a variety of players on him and playing zone. Wallace, who had 25 points in a win over Denver on Monday, added eight rebounds and three blocks, and left Knicks guard Stephon Marbury calling him one of the league’s most underrated players.
“By far,” Marbury said. “By far.”
Jamal Crawford scored 28 points for the Knicks, who went more than 11 minutes without a field goal bridging the third and fourth quarters.
The Knicks, who cut a 15-point third-quarter deficit to four, missed 11 straight shots to start the fourth quarter until Eddy Curry’s meaningless half-hook with 1:54 left.
Curry, who had 12 points after the first quarter, missed his next seven shots and ended up with only 15 for the Knicks, who shot 36 percent for the game and 1-for-13 in the final quarter.
“I just couldn’t find a rhythm tonight,” Curry said after the Knicks dropped their fifth game to Charlotte in the past six meetings. “I started out the game and got pretty good post position, but as the game wore one, I couldn’t find a shot.”
The Bobcats opened the second half on a 17-5 run to open a 15-point lead. Wallace and Anderson hit 3-pointers in the spurt and Emeka Okafor, limited to 12 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, had consecutive putbacks.
The Knicks, who missed 11 of their first 13 shots in the second half, turned things around when they switched to a zone defense. Charlotte, which has struggled against zones in the past month, started settling for outside shots and the Knicks got back in it.
Crawford hit a 3-pointer and had a three-point play in a 13-2 run that got New York within four late in the third quarter, but the Knicks’ cold streak soon started.
“That zone helped us and we had them shooting jump shots,” said Knicks forward David Lee, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds. “But then they were able to penetrate the zone and get dump downs to Wallace on the baseline.”
The Knicks then had no answer thanks to poor shooting as they failed to build off their win a night earlier against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jared Jeffries, getting his second start in place of Quentin Richardson (sprained right elbow), had just four points on 1-of-5 shooting. Marbury, hampered by a sore left knee he aggravated against the Lakers, was held to seven points on 1-of-7 shooting.
“It was tough making going to the basket and doing some of the things I’m capable of doing,” Marbury said. “I didn’t have time to recuperate.”
The Bobcats were banged up themselves, playing with only 11 healthy players with Brevin Knight (abdominal surgery), Primoz Brezec (back), Sean May (knee) and Othella Harrington (knee surgery) sidelined. But their recent hot streak had Wallace thinking the Bobcats could sneak into the playoffs with the way they’re playing.
“In the Eastern Conference, with the record we have, if we just keep doing what we’re doing, there’s a great shot we’ll be in the playoffs,” Wallace said.
Knicks coach Isiah Thomas wouldn’t name the players he voted for to make the All-Star team, but did reveal he voted for players from his old team, the Detroit Pistons. “Whenever a Piston has a chance, he has my vote. I’m biased,” Thomas said. … The Bobcats plan to shut down May for about a week after he initially tried to play through a bone bruise in his surgically repaired right knee. … Referee Eli Roe gave Okafor the first technical foul of his three-year career in the second quarter. … Seemingly breaking physics laws, Knicks F Channing Frye’s first-quarter hook shot came to rest on the back of the rim, leading to a jump ball at midcourt.