CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 30 (Ticker) -- Ben Gordon
playing like a Rookie of the Year candidate.
Gordon scored 22 of his season-high 35 points in the fourth
quarter to lead the Chicago Bulls to a season high-tying seventh
straight victory, a 102-99 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats.
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"It's real simple," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff
"That was about a good a performance as I've ever seen in a
critical time in a basketball game, from not only a rookie but
from anybody that I've ever been around.
"It didn't matter. We had a lot of hands on him. He was
falling away; he was slipping and getting up. That is what he's
been doing all year. He took over the basketball game."
Gordon scored the final 16 points for the Bulls, who were
without starting point guard Kirk Hinrich
hamstring) for a fifth straight game and also were missing
starting center Eddy Curry
(flu-like symptoms). Chicago's bench
outscored Charlotte's, 65-25.
"I can't really explain it," said Gordon, who made 11-of-17
shots. "I was just feeling it. My teammates got me open and I
was able to get some good looks, and I converted them. I was
hot, so all I needed was a split second to see the target and I
was able to hit it."
"Ben's a good shooter and scorer," Chicago coach Scott Skiles
said. "There are very few guys out there that can shoot like
that, shoot in people's faces like that and shoot from a
distance like that with accuracy, and not be afraid to take big
shots and make them. He's way more good than bad."
Chicago trailed, 95-93, before Gordon nailed a spinning jumper
over 7-1 Bobcats center Primoz Brezec
with 1:14 remaining. The
rookie guard from Connecticut gave the Bulls the lead for good,
98-95, on a 3-pointer with 42 seconds to play.
"I would say they outplayed us for most of the game," Skiles
said. "Ben just had a hot hand."
After a layup by Jason Hart
two seconds later pulled Charlotte
within 98-97, Gordon answered with a 3-pointer over Brezec from
well beyond the top of the arc with 22 seconds left, opening a
Hart and Keith Bogans
each missed jumpers for the Bobcats before
Gordon split a pair of free throws for a five-point lead with
three seconds left, rendering Hart's buzzer-beating jumper
"This came down to one guy making plays for his team," Charlotte
forward Gerald Wallace
said. "That's what it was. Ben Gordon
obviously made some big shots, and when he was hot, they kept
going to him and kept making the shots. This is the NBA, you
can't really say much when a guy is knocking down shots."
Chicago dominated the fourth quarter, making 12-of-19 shots,
including 5-of-7 from the arc. For the game the Bulls sank
12-of-19 3-pointers (63 percent).
"When Ben Gordon
gets it going, he just turns it on," said
Charlotte rookie Emeka Okafor
, Gordon's teammate at UConn. "I
sensed it in the third when he started to get it going. I was
with him for three years, so I saw everything. When he's like
that, when he gets in the zone, you can't really do anything
and Jannero Pargo
each scored 16 points for
the Bulls (39-31), who remained one game behind Washington for
fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
"We just did tonight what these team has been doing all year
long," Pargo said. "Guys are stepping up when guys aren't able
to go or aren't themselves and have been helping the ballclub
Wallace scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and
Brezec and leading Rookie of the Year candidate Okafor added 17
and 10 rebounds apiece for Charlotte, which is 0-3 against
Chicago this season.
Gordon and Okafor both were non-committal about the Rookie of
the Year race, which appears to be neck and neck between them.
"I don't know," Gordon said. "That's up to you (the media).
You guys vote; we'll just have to see what happens."
"My statement has always been that you don't win it in just one
game," Okafor said. "So I'll leave it at that."
With 4:55 remaining, Bulls big man Tyson Chandler
point guard Brevin Knight
were ejected after getting into an
"He grabbed hold of my legs when I was trying to run to the
ball," Chandler said. "I tried to kick him off my leg and he
got up and ran up on me. There weren't any punches. I just
tried to get my space from him when he was running up at me."
"It was just two guys getting a little heated," Knight said.
"There was a little exchange. I don't know if it warranted an
ejection or not. If that warranted an ejection, there will be
ejections in these league every night."