Wallace makes successful return as Bobcats top HawksJan 20, 2007 - 4:35 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- After sitting out the last seven games with a separated right shoulder, Gerald Wallace did not miss a beat.
Wallace scored 18 points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds and Emeka Okafor added 22 and 13 as the Bobcats posted a 96-75 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Averaging 13.3 points before suffering the injury against the Indiana Pacers on December 30, Wallace hit 6-of-12 shots and collected three steals as Charlotte topped Atlanta for the seventh time in 10 meetings.
"I didn't really feel like I was going to be that effective," Wallace said. "I didn't feel like I was going to be able to play that much. I was just hoping I would get hit too hard tonight. ... But once I got out there and took a couple of hops, it didn't bother me. My shots eventually started to fall as the game went along."
"With Gerald on the block, he (is) really very difficult to match up with down on the block," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "The part I was impressed with was his rebounding early in the game. That was the thing that got us possessions and that (is) how you get points."
Okafor, who made 10-of-12 shots, scored 11 points in the second quarter, including three dunks, and rookie Adam Morrison added seven points to help give the Bobcats a 53-41 halftime lead.
"Everybody played well," Okafor said. "We moved the ball and shared the basketball, played good defense and got this needed win. ... When I start scoring, it opens a lot of opportunities for everybody else. We all help each other out."
Wallace hit a 3-pointer and a pair of layups early in the third period, and Charlotte closed the period on a 10-2 run for a 75-57 edge. Morrison made back-to-back layups and Derek Anderson made four straight free throws during the burst.
"It was nice to have (Wallace) out there," Okafor said. "To have 15 rebounds in like 10 minutes added defensive presence to our offense. It was nice to have him back."
Charlotte scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to widen the margin, as Ryan Hollins dunked, Morrison and Jeff McInnis hit jumpers and Wallace sank two foul shots.
"I don't think we had it from the beginning when we stepped out on the floor," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "They made every hustle play and got every rebound. Between Okafor and Wallace, they dominated the game. We were never in the game."
Morrison scored 19 points and Matt Carroll added 12 for the Bobcats, who recorded a 47-31 rebounding advantage.
Joe Johnson scored 19 points, Josh Smith added 14 and Josh Childress 12 for Atlanta, which entered averaging 101.3 points during a three-game winning streak.
"They came out and played harder than us and wanted it more than we did," Johnson said. "I thought we came home and relaxed. We just have to pick up our intensity."
The Hawks scored just 16 points in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth, while missing all six 3-pointers in the contest.
"It is unacceptable," Childress said. "We had the opportunity not only to make it four in a row, but to get a win we're capable of getting. You have to win the ones you're capable of winning. From experience, we know they play hard. They did that tonight."
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
CHARLOTTE 21 32 22 21 96
ATLANTA 21 20 16 18 75 FINAL
HIGH SCORERS: CHA - EMEKA OKAFOR 22, ADAM MORRISON 19,
GERALD WALLACE 18
ATL - JOE JOHNSON 19, JOSH SMITH 14, JOSH
Jan 19 9:51 PM
HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
CHARLOTTE 21 32 53
ATLANTA 21 20 41 HALFTIME
HIGH SCORERS AT HALFTIME
CHA - EMEKA OKAFOR 17, ADAM MORRISON 11,
GERALD WALLACE 9
ATL - JOE JOHNSON 15, JOSH SMITH 12, JOSH
Jan 19 8:41 PM
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