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Carroll continues surprising play as Bobcats top Hawks

Jan 21, 2007 - 4:59 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Matt Carroll is a long way from the minor leagues.

Carroll scored 22 points and Emeka Okafor collected 19 and seven rebounds as the Charlotte Bobcats routed the Atlanta Hawks, 104-85, to sweep a home-and-home series.

Rookie Adam Morrison scored 18 points for Charlotte, which shot a season-high 65 percent (42-of-65) from the field and has won both games since the return of versatile forward Gerald Wallace, who scored 12 points in 33 minutes.

"Gerald is a pretty good player when he keeps his focus," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Gerald always had good stamina; that's what he does. He's hard to handle when we start him at (power forward). He goes over the small guys and blows past the big guys.

"It is good to see Gerald return and play the way he has in his first two games back," Carroll said. "He has contributed at both ends of the floor and was a big factor in both of our wins over Atlanta."

An undrafted guard, Carroll was discovered by Bickerstaff during a scouting trip to the D-League.

Since signing with the Bobcats in February 2005, Carroll has been much more than a spare part, contributing to Charlotte's impressive play recently. The Bobcats are 7-4 in their last 11 games.

"We're playing some of the best basketball of the season right now," Carroll said. "If you look at the games that we lost, there are a couple that we could have won and should have won, but we let them slip away. We're playing unselfish with everybody getting shots. We're taking good shots, which makes a big difference."

Entering Saturday's contest averaging a career-best 10.9 points per game, Carroll has hurt opponents with his outside shooting but also has shown the ability to take foes off the dribble and break down opposing defenses. In his last six contests, the third-year guard is averaging 17 points.

"I was impressed with our play," Carroll said. "It was a fun game to play in. Everyone got good looks and that attributed to our strong shooting."

On Saturday, Carroll shot 9-of-12 from the field on a mix of soft jumpers and hard drives. He had 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting in Friday's 96-75 win at Atlanta.

However, Carroll praised his teammates, especially point guard Jeff McInnis, who had 17 points and nine assists.

"Jeff played excellent," Carroll said. "Since he was hitting his shot, it really opened things up. They had to guard him, but everyone else was hitting, too."

Joe Johnson scored 22 points for the Hawks, who shot 51 percent (33-of-65) but committed 16 turnovers.

"(The Bobcats) were the better team on both nights," Johnson said. "They played hard each night and were able to execute their offense to the fullest. They had some nice runs and shot the ball extremely well. We weren't able to capitalize on many of their mistakes."

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