SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Charlotte Bobcats first season has
been miserable on the road, where the expansion team won just once
it its first 20 tries.
And facing an 11-point deficit in the final quarter without
rookie star Omeka Okafor made it look more bleak for the Bobcats.
But Charlotte rallied for one of the biggest wins in the team's
short history, beating the Utah Jazz 109-105 Tuesday night.
"It's just good for the guys, just to reach down and compete
when you're undermanned and that's what this team does all the
time," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
Competing all the time is one thing, but this time the Bobcats
did came out with a win, just the 10th in franchise history. It
also guarantees that Charlotte will not tie the 1972-73
Philadelphia 76ers for the worst record in NBA history -- 9-73.
"It rules out the Philadelphia Syndrome," Bickerstaff said
with a laugh.
Gerald Wallace scored 28 points and Brevin Knight added 21
points and eight assists and they combined to lead the
fourth-quarter comeback. Jason Kapono added 12 points off the bench
for the Bobcats, who trailed 89-78 in the fourth quarter but
rallied to improve to 2-19 on the road.
"We just continued to press. We wanted to push the ball at them
as much as possible," said Knight, who had 11 points and four
assists in the final quarter to go with Wallace's 10 points.
"Defensively we did a good job. We stopped them. We got
rebounds," Knight said. "I'd like to have a lot more (road wins),
but we'll get them."
The Jazz continued to slump despite a season-high 27 points and
career-best 10 assists for Andrei Kirilenko. Gordan Giricek scored
21 for Utah, but missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds that could
have won it for the Jazz.
After Giricek's shot clanged off the rim, Primoz Brezec got the
rebound and threw a long pass to Wallace, who punctuated the win
with a dunk with 1.7 seconds remaining.
"We just played more aggressive and I think the more aggressive
we got, the more comfortable we got," Wallace said.
Okafor went on the injured list Tuesday with a sprained ankle,
but the Bobcats gained a little confidence knowing they could win
without the second overall pick in last summer's draft.
Charlotte made 13 of 22 shots in the fourth quarter and was
7-for-9 from the line while winning on the road for the first time
since beating Houston 90-87 on Dec. 22.
"I don't really care if they have nine wins or 60 wins. This
team play hard and we actually played hard too, just not enough,"
Utah looked like it had put away the pesky Bobcats early in the
fourth, but Charlotte never fell behind by more than 11 and kept
slowly cutting into the lead. Knight led the Bobcats to within a
point twice before Melvin Ely tied it at 101 with 2:41 remaining on
a three-point play, drawing a foul by Collins, and Wallace put the
Bobcats ahead with two free throws.
Kirilenko put the Jazz right back ahead with a three-point play,
but Ely answered that with a hook shot to give Charlotte a 105-104
The Bobcats pulled down a defensive rebound, but Utah got a
break when Jason Hart was called for a foul. Kirilenko went 1-for-2
from the line to tie it again with 48.8 seconds remaining.
Knight made one of two free throws with 36.8 seconds left to put
Charlotte back ahead 106-105 and the Bobcats shut down the Jazz at
the other end. Carlos Boozer was blocked, but Kirilenko went down
to try to wrestle the ball away from Wallace and got a jump ball,
which Charlotte ended up winning when Utah knocked the ball out of
The Jazz fouled immediately and it worked when Jason Hart missed
his first free throw then made the second to give the Bobcats only
a two-point lead at 107-105 with 15.3 seconds left
After Giricek's miss, Wallace silenced the crowd with another
leaping dunk.<^Notes:@ Utah's Raja Bell was ejected early in the
second quarter for arguing a foul call. It was Utah's first
ejection of the season. ... Kirilenko's previous season high was 24
on Nov. 8 against Denver -- before the knee sprain that sidelined
him for 26 games. ... Jahadi White was activated by Charlotte
earlier Tuesday and scored seven points.