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Wallace scores 27 as Bobcats hold off Knicks

Dec 22, 2007 - 4:15 AM By Bill Kiser PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) - Nazr Mohammed had 20 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks as the Charlotte Bobcats held off a fourth-quarter rally to beat the New York Knicks, 105-95, on Friday night.

It was Mohammed's first double-double with the Bobcats since he was traded to the team from Detroit last Friday.

"I'm just trying to fit in here," said Mohammed, who has also played for San Antonio, New York, Atlanta and Philadelphia in his nine-year NBA career. "I'm not in total game shape yet, but it's been as good as it can be right now.

"Coach (Sam Vincent) hasn't been able to open up the whole playbook, because I don't know it yet. He's been trying to keep it simple, and I just do the things I can do and play hard."

Gerald Wallace had 27 points, Emeka Okafor and Jason Richardson scored 17 apiece, and Raymond Felton added 10 and nine assists for Charlotte, which has won four of its past five games at home.

Mohammed made his first start for the Bobcats in their 98-92 win over Utah on Wednesday, and responded with 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

"We didn't expect Naz to be as good as Naz has been, and he can only get better," Vincent said. "He definitely provides me the opportunity to run plays through him.

"He's got a real nice jump shot and he showed tonight that he can put the ball on the floor and go around some guys and attack the rim. He's turning out to be a godsend in the middle and he'll be able to help Emeka out."

Nate Robinson came off the bench to score 20 points, Jamal Crawford added 16, Zach Randolph 15, Eddy Curry and David Lee 11 each and Fred Jones 10 for the Knicks, who flopped after an impressive home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

"It was extremely disappointing and puzzling because we played two different games tonight," New York coach Isiah Thomas said. "We gave up 67 points in the first half and 38 in the second half, and we still had a chance to win the game.

"I just have to keep putting it in their heads that if they come out and give 48 minutes of intensity, effort and energy, we can be a really good basketball team. You can't give 24 minutes of effort and energy; it has to be 48."

Down by as many as 24 points in the first half, New York cut Charlotte's lead under double digits late in the fourth quarter, pulling within 102-93 on Jones' layup with 19.5 seconds left.

But Charlotte hit 8-of-12 from the free-throw line in the final minute to stave off the Knicks and win its second consecutive game.

"We got things going early, but we didn't finish the game like we needed to finish it," Wallace said. "We let up, and that's something we can't do as a team. We've got to learn that when we've got a team down, we've got to finish them off. They were on the edge of the bridge, and we let them climb back on and make a game of it."

After getting off to a slow start, New York rallied to lead three times in the first quarter, the last at 20-16 on Randolph's jumper with 5:11 remaining. But Richardson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to kick off a 16-4 run that put Charlotte up 34-24 at the end of the period.

The Knicks never pulled back under double digits the rest of the first half, with Richardson's jumper with 2:19 remaining capping a 26-12 run to put the Bobcats up 60-36 - their biggest lead of the half - before going up 67-44 at the break.

That was the second-highest halftime lead in the Bobcats' franchise history, just two shy of the 25-point record set against Atlanta on April 13, 2005.

"We just had no fire or competitiveness," Thomas said. "We finally got five or six guys that came with some fire and intensity. If you come and play with that and lose, you go home and feel good about it. To come out the way we did is puzzling. At the same time, you see that it is there. We need to get them doing that for 48 minutes."

Wallace scored 20 points, Richardson added 13 and Okafor netted 10 for Charlotte in the first half.

Randolph and Curry had 11 points each for the Knicks in the first half. Crawford had nine points in the first quarter, but was held scoreless in the second period as the Bobcats opened up the lead.

New York managed to cut the Bobcats' lead under 20 points in the third quarter, pulling within 83-66 on Jones' jumper with 56.1 seconds left. But Wallace responded with a jumper with 8.3 seconds remaining to put Charlotte up 85-66 at the end of period.

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