Bobcats 102, 76ers 87
Morrison was one of three Bobcats to score 19 points and Charlotte, minus sick coach Bernie Bickerstaff, beat the Philadelphia 76ers 102-87 on Friday night for their record-tying fourth straight win.
The third-year Bobcats, who won four in a row to end last season, were never threatened despite Bickerstaff leaving the bench late in the first quarter with flu-like symptoms.
“I don’t want to hate on coach, but when older people say they feel lightheaded you get a little worried,” Morrison said of his 62-year-old boss. “But he said he was fine at halftime, so we weren’t too concerned after that. He’ll be all right.”
And so are the Bobcats. Behind Bickerstaff’s son John-Blair, who at 27 is the youngest assistant coach in the NBA, Charlotte used a balanced attack with Matt Carroll and Gerald Wallace also scoring 19 points. Emeka Okafor added 16 points and 16 rebounds despite missing shootaround because he was also feeling ill.
“I didn’t know he was going to leave until he left,” the younger Bickerstaff said of his father. “He got a little lightheaded. It’s one of those things where the guys did a good job of making the adjustment, of taking it on their shoulders without their leader there. They stepped up and took it to a higher level.”
Charlotte built a 17-point second-quarter lead, and after the 76ers got within seven to start the fourth quarter, Okafor and Carroll fueled a 5-0 run to put it away.
Morrison, who scored 26 points in Charlotte’s come-from-behind win in Minnesota Wednesday, shot 7-for-12, and made all three 3-pointers. Charlotte shot 51 percent as it improved to 15-12 since starting the season 7-21.
“We’re coming together. We’re moving the ball. Adam is making shots and our confidence is up,” Wallace said. “I think everybody is putting in their own pieces and we’re coming together as a team.”
Kyle Korver scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and Andre Miller added 15 points for the 76ers. Leading scorer Andre Iguodala was held to 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting as Philadelphia lost for the fourth time in five games.
Iguodala, who was held below 20 points for the third straight game, had his night best summed up when he clanged a one-handed windmill dunk off the back rim midway through the third quarter. The ball sailed about 25 feet out of bounds.
“Tonight was just bad. We played so horrible,” said Iguodala, who has made only 7 of 36 shots in the past three games. “We didn’t do anything right.”
The 76ers struggled to contain the Bobcats, even switching to a zone in the fourth quarter. But Charlotte made seven 3-pointers and had 24 assists as Philadelphia failed to build off Wednesday’s win over New York.
“We came out and ended up on our heels early,” 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said. “Our defense was not as good as it has been, particularly in the first quarter. I think that’s where the game got away from us.”
Morrison had two quick buckets to start an 11-2 run at the beginning of the second quarter as Charlotte built a 39-22 lead. The 76ers got within 55-43 at halftime behind Steven Hunter’s 12 points.
But the Sixers, who fell to 13-19 since Allen Iverson was traded to Denver, couldn’t overcome 18 turnovers and get back in the game.
“I think this team tries hard and plays hard together,” said Hunter. “Each and every game is a building block for the playoffs or next season. We just want to get better and continue to develop chemistry.”
Sixers F Samuel Dalembert blocked two shots and became the seventh player in team history with 600 career blocks. … Bobcats F Sean May missed his 13th straight game with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. Guard Jeff McInnis (ankle) sat out his third straight game. … Cheeks and assistant Moses Malone, ex-76ers who played in the 1980s against Dennis Johnson, expressed sadness at the former Celtic’s death Thursday. Cheeks said Johnson should be in the Hall of Fame. “I assume at one point he will be,” Cheeks said.