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Undermanned Bobcats beat Bulls for fifth win in seven

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- With four of their top seven scorers out
injured, it was fitting a guy playing at less than full strength
bailed out the Charlotte Bobcats.

Melvin Ely scored 20 points and Primoz Brezec added 17 points
and 14 rebounds to lead the undermanned Bobcats over the Chicago
Bulls 93-80 Wednesday night.

Ely, still recovering from a bout with the flu that forced him
to miss four games earlier this month, added eight rebounds as
Charlotte won for the fifth time in seven games.

"The flu brought me down and I'm still recovering from that,"
Ely said. "Today was my first day feeling 85 percent. I'm just
trying to get back in basketball shape."

The Bobcats forced 25 turnovers and outrebounded the Bulls 50-38
despite finishing with only 10 healthy bodies. They lost starting
guard Brevin Knight to a sprained left ankle in the second quarter.
Knight, who scored 22 points in Tuesday's win at Atlanta, did not
return.

The Bobcats were already without Emeka Okafor (ankle), Kareem
Rush (finger), Sean May (knee) and Jake Voskuhl (ankle).

"We know guys are banged up and hurt, and then Brevin goes
down," forward Gerald Wallace said. "When that happens, other
guys have to step up and make a play. Right now everybody is
stepping up to the challenge."

Luol Deng scored 18 points and Darius Songaila added 12 for the
Bulls, who lost their fifth straight, their longest skid since
starting 0-9 last season.

"Charlotte just played harder than we did. The Bobcats
outhustled us," Deng said.

Despite their lack of size, the Bobcats rallied from an
eight-point third-quarter deficit thanks in part to their 21
offensive rebounds. Ely, who was two points shy of a career high,
and Kevin Burleson had back-to-back follow shots in the final
minute to put Charlotte ahead 65-63.

Chicago missed its first three shots and committed four
turnovers to start the fourth quarter as Charlotte extended its
lead to 71-63 on Ely's basket with 9:44 left that capped a 12-0
run.

Wallace's steal and layup with 6:24 left put the Bobcats ahead
79-65.

"We gave them 29 points off our turnovers, 27 second-chance
points and 25 free throws," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said.
"When they made a run at us and pressured us, we didn't have much
poise."

Chicago, 1-2 against Charlotte this season, went on a 12-3 run
at the beginning of the third quarter to break a halftime tie.
Andres Nocioni's jumper with 7:34 left gave the Bulls a 57-48 lead.

But Chicago, which forced 21 turnovers and held Charlotte to 37
percent shooting, couldn't hold onto the lead as it got another
subpar performance from Ben Gordon, who had nine points on 4-of-14
shooting.

"We had good ball movement and we were shooting the ball and
all of a sudden each guy got a little bit greedy," Skiles said.
"I'm concerned by some of the things I see going on, during
practices, shootaround, and during the game. I'm concerned about
our overall team attitude right now."
^Notes@: Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said Rush is close to
coming back from his sprained right index finger, but he wants him
to go through a practice first. ... Skiles said he thought about
having little-used rookie Eddie Basden active for the game in his
return to Charlotte, where he starred for the 49ers. "Until he
missed the first bus and came on the second bus, then the thought
was over," Skiles said. Reserve players are expected to arrive
early for extra work. ... North Carolina State football coach Chuck
Amato sat courtside next to South Florida coach Jim Leavitt. The
teams play Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.