CHARLOTTE, N.C -- Gerald Wallace had been trying so hard to learn Larry Brown's system he found himself thinking too much and not trusting his instinct.
A pregame meeting helped Wallace end his mental anguish -- and give Brown his first victory with his record ninth NBA team.
A more aggressive Wallace scored 34 points Saturday, leading the hot-shooting, free-flowing Charlotte Bobcats past the Miami Heat 100-87 to end a month of frustration.
After a winless preseason and an ugly loss at Cleveland to open the regular season, Wallace, Jason Richardson and Emeka Okafor led an efficient, hustling performance that gave the well-traveled Brown his 1,011th career win.
"Oh man, it was like you were in a free-fall for a while," Brown said. "We were the only [winless] team and everybody reminds you of that. You come in here with a new coaching staff, everybody is talking about changes, well I don't think we looked like a well-coached team. That was a big concern. But I think the kids needed to win."
Richardson added 23 points and Okafor had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Charlotte, which shot 54 percent, controlled the boards and took advantage of Dwyane Wade's off night to spoil Heat rookie coach Erik Spoelstra's 38th birthday.
Rookie Michael Beasley capped his opening week with 25 points for the Heat, who couldn't build off Friday's blowout win over Sacramento. Wade, hampered by foul trouble, added 19 points on 5-of-15 shooting, while Udonis Haslem scored 16 points.
"It's called growing pains. It's going to happen," Wade said. "Coach said we're going to take one step backward, but then hopefully we'll take two steps forward."
On Saturday the Heat had no answer for Wallace, who consistently scored on drives to the basket and his improved jumper, making 11 of 16 shots while appearing more comfortable after his pregame sit down.
"I said, 'Coach, I'm trying to learn, but I just think I'm thinking too much. ... If I mess up, I'll apologize after the game, but just give me an opportunity to play," Wallace said. "He agreed, and I was able to go out and play and do whatever I had to do to help our team win."
After Miami cut a once 17-point Charlotte lead to 77-71 on Marcus Banks' 3-pointer with in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Wallace took over. He hit a 3-pointer, had a three-point play and a driving layup on the next three possessions.
Miami never threatened again, delighting a rare sellout crowd in Charlotte and managing partner Michael Jordan, who sat courtside one seat away from the end of the Bobcats bench and watched a game featuring a stark contrast in coaches.
While the gray-haired, 68-year-old Brown entered with 1,010 NBA wins and 406 more in the ABA and college, the slick-haired Spoelstra had won his first NBA game a night earlier.
But the rebuilding Heat, coming off a 15-67 season, were no match, especially with Wade in foul trouble and clanging jumpers.
"Our identity right now is to be a defensive team first," Spoelstra said. "Tonight we thought we were an offensive team and we struggled."
Before making his Charlotte debut, Brown shook up the starting lineup, placing Sean May on the inactive list. Brown has lamented May's lack of conditioning as he recovers from right knee surgery that caused him to miss all of last season.
After starting May and watching him miss all six shots in Thursday's loss to Cleveland, Brown replaced him with Jared Dudley and indicated May could be sidelined a while.
The small lineup with Dudley had a chance to be effective against the Heat, who feature one of the league's smallest frontcourts.
Rebounding well and much more efficient on offense than they've been under Brown, the Bobcats shot 60 percent in the first half.
Charlotte would have pulled away sooner if not for Beasley. The No. 2 pick in the draft shot 8-for-10 through the first three quarters, keeping the Heat within striking distance. But Charlotte overcame 21 turnovers to hang on thanks to a 41-27 rebounding edge.
"It's good to get a win," Richardson said, "because now you know the system works."
After spending most of the previous two seasons in hidden in a luxury box, Jordan was animated on the sideline while barking at officials. ... Spoelstra before the game reflected on working his way from the team's video coordinator to celebrating his 38th birthday as head coach. "After working here for 13 years, it's special," Spoelstra said. "It's a tremendous honor for me." ... Spoelstra shuffled his inactive players. Shaun Livingston, working his way back from knee surgery, did not dress. G Chris Quinn was active. ... The Bobcats had only five sellouts last season.