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Wallace scores 34 as Brown gets first win with Bobcats

Nov 2, 2008 - 2:09 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- It took long enough, but the Charlotte Bobcats finally got Larry Brown his first win as their head coach.

After a winless preseason and an unimpressive loss in the season opener, the Bobcats finally snapped their skid with a 100-87 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday.

Gerald Wallace collected 34 points and nine boards and Emeka Okafor registered a double-double with 18 and 13 as Charlotte put together a strong shooting night en route to its first win of the season.

"We really needed this win," Wallace said. "We felt like they were coming in off a back-to-back and that we matched up with them. We definitely had to get a win on our home court."

For the team's legendary head coach, it's been a long time coming. In April, Brown signed on with the Bobcats, taking the helm for his ninth NBA team. Typically, he has only lasted three or four years in each stint - or even less.

But in inheriting a franchise that has never won more than 33 games in four years and a roster full of young players - not necessarily a natural fit for a coach notorious for his impatience with rookies, mistakes and rookie mistakes. He has had more than his share of all three since training camp began a month ago - and his new team's debut Thursday suggested that there's still a long way to go.

"We were in free-fall for a while," Brown said. "We were the only team (without a win) and everybody reminds you of that. I think the kids needed a win, they needed something positive to happen."

But the victory was an impressive turnaround. After shooting just 34 percent in their 96-79 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bobcats put together a much more potent offensive output against the Heat.

"I told coach that I'm trying to learn, but that I was thinking too much," Wallace said. "Just give me an opportunity to go out and play and let me do what I do best. He agreed and I was able to just go out and play tonight and do what we needed to get the win."

Naturally, it was the veterans that led the way.

Wallace, who averaged a career-high 19.4 points last season, was 11-of-16 from the floor to lead a Bobcats squad that connected at a 54-percent clip (37-of-69) on the night. Jason Richardson, the team's leading scorer a year ago, added 23 on 10-of-17 shooting.

"We did a lot of things well tonight," Richardson said. "We shot the ball well. We defended and rebounded and did a lot of things right. We still have a lot of room to grow, but this is a good start right here."

The Bobcats took control early with a 12-0 first-quarter run, capped by Okafor's three-point play, that gave them a 22-14 lead. While they never delivered the death blow, they were able to keep Miami at bay for the bulk of the night.

"They came out with a lot of ball pressure and intensity," Miami superstar Dwyane Wade said. "They jumped on us early and the offense wasn't going smooth, which caused a lot of errors."

Miami cut Charlotte's lead to six points, 77-71, on Marcus Banks' 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, but another Bobcats run put the game away. Wallace scored the next seven points as Charlotte overcame 21 turnovers to cruise to the victory.

Charlotte forward Jared Dudley got a start after Sean May was ruled out due to lower back pain. May started the season opener but was 0-of-6 from the floor and played just three minutes in the second half. Dudley had six points and four rebounds against the Heat.

Wade scored 19 points but struggled through a 5-of-15 shooting night, while rookie forward Michael Beasley led the way with 25 points.

"We came in here and we were cool about ourselves," Beasley said. "You've got to respect that it was these guys' opener and that they'll be extra pumped. We came in here like we were cool and it hurt us."

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