CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Ben Gordon showed Emeka Okafor why the
Rookie of the Year award is still up for grabs.
Gordon scored 22 of his career-high 35 points in the fourth
quarter Wednesday night to lead the Chicago Bulls to their seventh
straight win, 102-99 over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Gordon drained a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 42.8 seconds left,
then gave Chicago a 101-97 lead on another 3 with 21.7 seconds
"I was just feeling it," said Gordon, who scored the Bulls'
final 16 points. "I was getting good looks, I was freeing myself
up, and all I needed was a split second."
Othella Harrington added 16 points and eight rebounds and
Jannero Pargo also scored 16 for the Bulls, who won their seventh
straight game despite being without their top two scorers. Eddy
Curry was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms, while Kirk Hinrich
missed his fifth straight game with a strained left hamstring.
The Bulls, who came into the game leading the NBA with 39.2
bench points per game, rode the 8-of-12 fourth-quarter shooting of
Gordon, who's also a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.
"I thought they outplayed us most of the game, but Ben just got
hot down the stretch," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "He's a
very, very good shooter. There are very few guys who can shoot like
him and that are not afraid to take big shots."
Okafor has been considered by many to be the front runner for
the rookie award, but now may be overtaken by his former college
teammate at Connecticut.
"When Ben gets in a zone, he just turns it on," Okafor said.
"I was with him for three years, so I've seen everything."
Charlotte point guard Brevin Knight and Chicago forward Tyson
Chandler were ejected after getting tangled up going for a loose
ball with 5:22 left. Both began shoving each other, and Chandler
cocked his arm but was restrained by teammates.
"He grabbed my leg when I ran to the ball," Chandler said. "I
tried to kick him off my leg, get him off of me."
"It was just two guys getting a little heated," Knight said.
"I don't know if it warranted an ejection."
The Bulls scored the next six points after the ejections to take
a 91-86 lead on Gordon's 3-pointer. Charlotte, left with only Jason
Hart to run the point with Knight gone, fought back to tie the game
on Wallace's 3, then took the lead on Keith Bogans' drive with 2:12
But in the end, the Bobcats couldn't stop Gordon.
"That was about as good a performance I have seen in a critical
time in a basketball game for -- not only a rookie, but for
anybody," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
Skiles said Hinrich remains day-to-day. "He felt like he
was better today, but he's still not close," Skiles said. ...
Bobcats reserve Theron Smith, who was placed on the injured list
last week, had right knee surgery Tuesday and will miss the rest of
the season. Bickerstaff said Smith should've informed the team's
medical staff about the injury sooner. "It's OK to be tough, but
he didn't make a good decision. I told him we're upset with him,"