Bobcats open new arena with OT win over Celtics

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Charlotte Bobcats celebrated the opening of their new arena by becoming a winning team for the first time in franchise history.

Gerald Wallace scored 25 points, including a layup with 2:24 to play in overtime, to lead the Bobcats to a 107-105 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. It moved the Bobcats to 2-1 on the season -- the first time in their short history they've been over .500.

"We've got a winning record -- hooray!" Emeka Okafor said, pumping his arms in the air in mock excitement. "We're getting off to a good start this year. Last year we would have come back in the game and then lost."

The Bobcats trailed most of the game but used an 11-0 run late in the fourth quarter to get back into it. The game went into overtime tied at 103, and Okafor put Charlotte on top with a jumper.

The Celtics had several miscues on offense, including consecutive fouls, before Delonte West tied it at 105 on a running jumper with 3:28 to go.

Then Wallace made a jumper to put Charlotte back on top for good. The Celtics had several chances to tie it but shot just 1-for-12 in overtime.

"This game, we had the win, and we gave it away," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

The Bobcats were happy to take it, especially in their first appearance in their state of the art, $265 million downtown arena before a sold-out crowd.

"The energy was crazy," Okafor said. "I wasn't expecting that at all."

Brevin Knight finished with 21 points and Okafor, who had an off night with just 4-of-12 shooting, finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Melvin Ely added 12 points for the Bobcats and Jumaine Jones had 11.

Paul Pierce led Boston with 32 points, Ricky Davis had 21 and Al Jefferson scored 12.

"We should have put the game away," Pierce said. "We had a double-digit lead, but they stayed close and then they pulled it out."

The Celtics had a 10-point lead with 3:38 to play in regulation when Raef LaFrentz's basket made it 101-91. But the Bobcats took a 102-101 lead on Knight's jumper.

Pierce put Boston back on top with a pair of free throws, and then Ely made one to tie it at 103.

That's where it stayed until West missed a 3, Keith Bogans got the rebound and the Bobcats took a timeout with 38 seconds to go. Charlotte set up a play and the ball went inside to Okafor, who made a layup that was waived off as an offensive foul.

Jefferson went to the line for the Celtics but missed both free throws. Knight attempted the game-winner but was blocked by Jefferson.

The Bobcats were bursting with emotion almost three hours before the game, when they entered the new arena celebrity-style -- turning it into something resembling a movie premiere. Even the normally even-tempered Okafor was unusually animated, admitting he was caught up in the hype of an evening that included a pregame talk from NBA commissioner David Stern.

"Any time you have a grand opening, have to walk the red carpet and have the commissioner talk to us -- any time that happens you are going to be excited," Ely said.

But by the time he and the Bobcats took the court, the energy seemed to be gone, especially on defense. The Celtics made their first five shots and opened a quick 11-2 lead.

Charlotte scrapped back into it behind Wallace's 17 first-half points and Boston only led 57-55 at the half.

Game notes
Charlotte guard Kareem Rush did not play because of a jammed left thumb. Matt Carroll started in his place. ... The Celtics swept the four-game series last season. ... Bogans played 28 minutes after failing to get off the bench in Charlotte's first two games. Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he talked with Bogans and asked him to be patient. ... Of the celebrities in attendance -- actor Will Ferrell, singers Nelly and Ashanti and golfer Fred Couples -- the largest ovation went to North Carolina coach Roy Williams. He also drew cheers when he was featured on the "Kiss Cam" and leaned over and smooched his wife, Wanda.