Walker Leads Heat Past The Bobcats
Miami 91, Charlotte 85
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 27 (Ticker) -- For once, the Charlotte Bobcats thought they were going to take advantage of another team's injuries. Instead, another one of their key players went down - and so did they.
The Bobcats were making the most of the absence of Miami Heat star guard Dwyane Wade before an injury to guard Brevin Knight and a fourth-quarter explosion by Antoine Walker led to a 91-85 loss, Charlotte's 10th straight setback.
Already playing without starters Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace and Kareem Rush and key reserves Keith Bogans and rookie Sean May, the loss of Knight to a mild concussion only added to the misery of a team that has lost 14 of its last 15 games.
"It's getting ridiculous," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I've never seen anything like this. I guess I won't be able to say that again because we're experiencing it now."
Knight, fifth in the league in assists and first in assist-to-turnover ratio and total steals, was injured during the opening period when he fell to the floor after running into a pick by Miami's Gary Payton. He returned in the second quarter but did not play after halftime.
"They just sent him to the hospital for a scan," Bickerstaff said. "You could tell during the course of the game after he went down and went back in something was wrong."
"Once again, we get bit by that (injury) bug, with somebody going down in the game," Bobcats forward Melvin Ely said. "Our leader left us, we tried to maintain it and it just slipped away."
Charlotte led its Southeast Division rivals by as many as 12 points in the first quarter and held a 41-30 advantage when Carroll - who scored a season-high 20 points - drilled a 3-pointer with 9:30 left in the third period.
"We're getting a better a feel for how to play together, but with us we can never get a true chemistry because it's never the same lineup out there," Carroll said. "You just never know how it's going to be or who is going to step up."
The Heat pared the deficit to 58-51 with 2:09 left before embarking on a 22-2 run, which included a 13-0 surge to open the fourth quarter. Walker keyed the outburst by scoring nine of the 13 points.
"Antoine played well tonight, especially in the third and fourth quarter," Heat center Shaquille O'Neal said. "He started hitting some shots. Whenever we have two or three guys out we're going to need guys to step up like that. It's going to be real important to get (Walker) going. He's our missing link. He's going to be our Robert Horry."
Walker scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, capping the rally with a 3-pointer that gave Miami a 73-60 lead with 6:39 left.
O'Neal scored 23 points and Udonis Haslem added 17 for the Heat, who let their lead slip as low as four in the final seconds.
"I knew coming into the game without Dwyane and Jason (Williams) there were going to be some more opportunities," Walker said. "I knew coach was going to go to me more, and in the second half I just relaxed and was able to get into a good rhythm and started to make some baskets. With those guys out, we've all got to be ready to step up for this team."
Miami improved to 26-18 overall and has won seven of its last 10 contests.
"I truly believe when all the parts are healthy, I know how good we are," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "I've said it over and over again and I will continue to say it: I just think this team can do it, can be something special. We know there are going to be nights like these."
"A game that could have been very, very ugly for us turned out to be a win," Riley said. "That's all that counts."