Bobcats take down Hawks in battle of NBA's worst

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Gerald Wallace didn't care that a win might have hurt the Charlotte Bobcats in the long run.

Wallace scored 31 points and the Bobcats beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-87 on Wednesday night to set a franchise record with their 27th win, one more than last season.

Charlotte also moved a half-game ahead of the Hawks in the standings. Beating a fellow lottery-bound team may mean fewer chances for the third-year Bobcats to get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

"I don't pay any attention to the draft," Wallace said. "Once April 19 comes and I see were not in the playoffs, I don't think about basketball anymore. ... I go watch my kids play baseball."

Wallace was nearly perfect after missing Saturday's overtime loss to New Jersey while complaining of severe cramping and a sore hip. Wallace hit 12 of 16 shots, 7 of 9 free throws and added nine rebounds, four steals and four blocks as the Bobcats snapped a two-game losing streak.

Matt Carroll added 19 points and point guards Raymond Felton and Brevin Knight combined for 19 assists for Charlotte, which beat Atlanta for the third straight time, a performance that left the injury-plagued Bobcats wondering where they'd be if they had stayed healthy.

"The disappointment is we think we should be much better, but because of circumstances we're not," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We're all hurt. We all know, to a man, we should have a much better record."

Josh Smith had 25 points and 15 rebounds, but also five turnovers for the bumbling Hawks, who committed 22 turnovers in losing their fifth straight game.

While the loss might mean and extra pingpong ball or two for the draft lottery, coach Mike Woodson hardly seemed like someone trying to tank games.

"They've taken a step forward, I think, in terms of how they play against us and that's disheartening," Woodson said of the Bobcats. "Our team was considered a young team that plays hard, but in the last few games, we haven't played that hard, I don't think."

The Hawks played their 12th straight game without leading scorer Joe Johnson (strained left calf) and Woodson said before the game Johnson could miss the rest of the season.

With Johnson out, Smith has been relied upon for most of the Hawks' offense.

Smith shot 8-for-18 and made 9 of 13 free throws, and this time he stuck around until the end. In the Hawks' last trip to Charlotte in January, Smith was ejected in the second quarter after picking up two technical fouls. He then made obscene gestures to the crowd on his way to the locker room and was fined $25,000 by the NBA.

There were no fireworks this time, just many Atlanta mistakes in its ninth straight road loss. When the Hawks weren't turning it over, they were shooting only 40 percent as they lost for the 13th time in 18 games, leaving Woodson perplexed.

"Yes it's surprising," Woodson said. "We've been playing hard as a unit and for some reason I'm not getting guys who are playing positive minutes, fully committed, mainly on the defensive end. That's where we're struggling."

Marvin Williams added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, but shot just 4-for-14.

The Bobcats survived a less-than-stellar performance from Emeka Okafor in his return from a strained left calf. Okafor, who had missed 15 straight games, had nine points on 3-of-9 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.

But Wallace, who scored 30 or more points for the seventh time this season, overcame that. Continually beating Smith to the basket, Wallace scored the first seven point in a 9-0 run to put Charlotte ahead 69-56 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.

The Bobcats slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter, and Carroll's 3-pointer with 3:09 left gave Charlotte a 97-80 lead.

"The one thing I'm impressed with the coaches and the players is the professionalism in how they practice and how they play," Bickerstaff said.

Game notes
Bobcats G Derek Anderson (knee) missed his fifth straight game, but said he'll play Friday against Milwaukee. ... Knight said the appeal of his $25,000 fine for verbal abuse of a game official won't be heard until after the end of the season. Knight claims referee Joe DeRosa bumped him during the incident on March 10. "We've sent in the video and I've told the NBA what happened," Knight said.