for this game

Bobcats break through against shorthanded Bulls

Jan 26, 2008 - 5:27 AM By Rory Spears PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- The Charlotte Bobcats made the shorthanded Chicago Bulls put away their brooms.

Losers of the first three meetings between the clubs this season, the Bobcats won at the United Center for just the second time in franchise history with a 90-77 victory on Friday night.

Emeka Okafor collected 21 points and 16 rebounds and Gerald Wallace added 21 points for Charlotte, which had lost six of its first seven matchups in the "Windy City" but took advantage of Chicago's injuries in this one.

"This one feels good," Okafor said. "The Bulls got us three times this year, and we haven't won here in what seems like ever."

The Bulls were playing without guard Ben Gordon (wrist) and forward Luol Deng (Achilles tendinitis). Without that duo, which is know for its late-game heroics, the Bobcats outscored the Bulls, 24-18, in the final quarter to secure the victory.

"What happened tonight is Ben Gordon didn't come in and start raining threes on us," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "The guys they were missing give them a lot of offense, call it what you want, but we played well enough to win."

After Charlotte opened a 52-41 lead in the third quarter on Jason Richardson's free throws, Thabo Sefolosha started to bring Chicago back. The Bulls used a 10-2 run to close within three points at 54-51.

"We could have won this game," Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. "In the end, they shot 50 percent and we shot 37 percent. The math is pretty simple."

The Bobcats finished the quarter with a 12-8 spurt, capped by Nazr Mohammed's layup, to hold off the Bulls' charge. As a result, Charlotte entered the fourth quarter with a 66-59 lead.

"We knew Chicago was going to make a run," Wallace said. "We just didn't let them run to get fast breaks and easy baskets. It was a matter of making them take the tough shot."

In the first half, Charlotte built its lead to 11 points at 25-14 when Jeff McInnis floated in a jumper with 9:52 remaining before halftime.

Chicago then fought its way back into game, closing the deficit to 31-29 on Tyrus Thomas' layup with 3:43 left in the half.

But the Bobcats closed the half with a 14-5 burst, powered by Richardson, who had six points - including a 3-pointer to end the half. Charlotte again led by 11 points heading into the locker room.

"We were throwing the ball away a little bit early in the game," Vincent said. "Then we settled down and played a better game."

Andres Nocioni scored 25 points for Chicago, which has alternated wins and losses in its last seven games.

"It's tough to win an NBA game scoring 77 points," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "They were efficient, and we couldn't get anything going against them."

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