Bobcats 100, Bulls 85
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Gerald Wallace and Charlotte were making no apologies for the sometimes unfair NBA schedule.
Wallace scored 32 points, Emeka Okafor added 15 points and 21 rebounds and the Bobcats pulled away from weary Chicago for a 100-85 win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
The Bobcats snapped a four-game losing streak by wearing down Chicago. While Charlotte had been off since Saturday, the Bulls were wrapping up a brutal string of games and travel. Following a seven-game West Coast road trip that concluded Sunday, Chicago returned home Tuesday and lost to Toronto. Then the snowstorm in Chicago delayed their arrival into Charlotte until 3 a.m. Wednesday.
“They’re primarily a jump shooting team and with them playing last night in a close game, we thought their legs would eventually get tired and they’d start missing,” Wallace said. “We wanted to come out and go at them.”
The Bobcats pulled away in the fourth quarter as Wallace continually beat Luol Deng off the dribble. His putback with just under 8 minutes left made it 81-68.
“We didn’t play with a lot of energy,” Deng said. “Maybe the trip, being away for two weeks, and then coming here and playing. I’m not going to use that as an excuse. We tried to find it out there, but our defense wasn’t where it should be. Our defense was terrible.”
Wallace, who scored 30 or more points for the second time in three games, added seven rebounds. Okafor also had six blocks for Charlotte, which avenged the worst loss in its three-year history, 115-76 at Chicago on Dec. 23.
“When we have a game like this, we show what we can do,” Okafor said. “We kind of tease ourselves sometimes. But all-in-all, besides the four-game slide we had, we’re playing pretty good ball.”
Ben Gordon scored 20 points and Deng added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Bulls, who have lost two straight games and six of nine heading into the All-Star break.
“It was definitely embarrassing effort and an embarrassing loss,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “It was just like last night. We started slow, we hung in there for a while but they just wore us down and we didn’t get anything going.
“We’re not playing like a high-level team. No reason to run from that, it’s true.”
While Charlotte was fresh, it was banged up. The Bobcats dressed only 10 players with Brevin Knight back on the shelf with soreness after abdominal surgery. Derek Anderson (ankle), Sean May (knee) and Othella Harrington (knee surgery) sat out again while Eric Williams, acquired from San Antonio for Melvin Ely on Tuesday, had yet to report to the team.
It forced Wallace, Okafor and Raymond Felton to all play more than 41 minutes. Felton had 16 points and nine assists.
“Hopefully we can get healthy so we can come back from the break and get busy,” Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
The Bulls were the better team early. Gordon scored 11 points in the first quarter and Chicago shot 58 percent to build as much as a seven-point lead. But Charlotte outscored Chicago 25-16 in the second, and Wallace’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Bobcats a 49-45 halftime lead.
Wallace scored 12 points in the third quarter when the Bobcats took as much as a 13-point lead and the Bulls 38 percent shooting never allowed them back in the game. Charlotte led by as many as 18 points late.
“When we’re at our best, we’re playing with a lot of energy and doing what we’re supposed to do defensively,” Gordon said. “They kept taking it to us and we had no answer.”
It was Okafor’s second game with 20 or more rebounds. … Skiles wasn’t happy that Joe Johnson, from struggling Atlanta, was selected over Gordon and Deng as an injury replacement for the All-Star game Wednesday. “I’ve got some radical ideas. I don’t think anybody on a below .500 team should be involved in the All-Star game,” Skiles said. … With Williams making $1 million more than Ely, the Spurs agreed to pay the Bobcats the prorated difference in the salaries. The Bobcats, well below the salary cap, could become popular before the trade deadline for teams trying to make deals to avoid the luxury tax.