Knicks fall to the Bobcats

March 28, 2009 6:52:26 PM PDT
Gerald Wallace had 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and the Charlotte Bobcats matched a modest franchise record for victories by beating the New York Knicks 96-85 on Saturday. Larry Brown earned a split in the season series with his former team, coaching the fifth-year Bobcats to their 33rd win in his first season to stay in the hunt for their first playoff berth.

D.J. Augustin added 19 points and Emeka Okafor had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Bobcats, who won their second straight game after an ugly loss to Washington.

Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington scored 18 points apiece for the Knicks, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.

The Bobcats' best record since joining the NBA was 33-49 in 2006-07, and Charlotte had little trouble matching that win total against the Knicks, who were held to 38 percent shooting from the field.

Wallace hit seven of 12 shots and nearly had the first triple-double in team history. His only miscue was when he was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk - something the Knicks' Harrington has done twice this season - with 1:37 left.

Raja Bell added 14 points, including a fadeaway with 4:21 left that put Charlotte ahead 89-80 and ended short-handed New York's comeback hopes from a 12-point deficit.

The Knicks played without Quentin Richardson, who sprained his left ankle a night earlier and was replaced in the starting lineup by Larry Hughes. They also got little from center Eddy Curry in his return.

Curry had played in only one game this season - a 3-minute stint at Dallas on Jan. 8 - due to knee pain. He also left the team later that month after his baby daughter and ex-girlfriend were shot to death in Chicago.

Before the game, coach Mike D'Antoni said he wanted to have Curry, a disappointment with the Knicks, play his first game away from the pressure of Madison Square Garden.

But Curry appeared a long way from game shape, lumbering up the floor and getting called for three fouls in 2 second-quarter minutes. That included shoving Okafor to the floor to prevent a layup after getting beat down the floor.

Curry didn't play in the second half, and the Knicks couldn't duplicate a solid first quarter a night after beating New Orleans to send a six-game slide.

The Knicks hit five of their first seven 3-pointers and led by nine before Charlotte closed the half with an 11-0 run with the help of a questionable call.

Wallace flailed his arms and fell backward as he tried an off-balance, 3-pointer to beat the buzzer and was bailed out by a foul call on Chandler. Wallace hit all three free throws, and Augustin added another when Hughes was called for a technical foul, to give Charlotte a 50-44 halftime lead.

Notes: Knicks G Nate Robinson avoided a suspension for his altercation with Chris Paul on Friday, which drew his 12th technical foul of the season. "Every call, you can't just continually complain. He has that bad habit," D'Antoni said. ... Brown said he doesn't feel vindicated leading the improved Bobcats after his 23-59 debacle in New York in 2005-06. "I didn't doubt if I could coach or not," Brown said. "I was disappointed and embarrassed by what went on in New York, but I still thought I had something to give." ... The lights were dimmed at halftime to film a scene for the television show "One Tree Hill." Character Nathan Scott was introduced as a Bobcats starter - seven times - to cheers from the crowd.