Knight, Wallace Lead Bobcats Past Jazz
Charlotte 104, Utah 89
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Without one of their stars, the Utah Jazz struggled mightily against the Charlotte Bobcats, who are used to playing without their star.
Brevin Knight and Gerald Wallace scored 19 points apiece and Knight added 10 assists as the Bobcats won for the second time on their six-game road trip with a 104-89 triumph over the Jazz, who were without Andrei Kirilenko.
"Obviously, it would have helped to have Andrei tonight, there's no question. Defensively, he would have helped us out tremendously," said Jazz forward Matt Harpring, who started in his place. "But with or without Andrei, we didn't give the effort that we needed to tonight. They looked like they wanted it, and it just didn't look like we did."
The Jazz got little sympathy from the Bobcats, who have played most of the season without reigning Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor due to an ankle injury, while one of their two first-round picks, forward Sean May, has been out of action since late December.
"Those guys have been out so long that we've learned how to play without them," Knight said. "In this game, you've got to play through injuries. We've done a great job playing through them."
Charlotte (16-43), which vaulted ahead of New York (15-41) in the race to avoid the NBA's worst record, played one of its best games of the season as it never trailed past the opening minutes of the first quarter.
"They dominated us right from the beginning of the ballgame," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We didn't really seem to have any life. ... They beat us all four quarters."
Wednesday's game marked just the sixth road victory for the Bobcats this season.
"You'll see a lot of smiling faces around here," Knight said. "Wins have been hard for us to come by this season. We've worked hard, but just fell short a number of times. It just feels good when it all comes together."
Wallace scored 16 points in the first half, including seven in the second quarter, when the Bobcats went on a 12-4 burst that opened a 47-37 advantage.
The Jazz got as close as 71-64 on a 3-pointer by rookie Deron Williams with 4:25 remaining in the third period. However, Charlotte quickly re-established its double-digit advantage.
Uncharacteristically, the Jazz never made a run in the fourth quarter, as the deficit swelled as high as 20 points.
"I was kind of waiting for (a run) when the fourth quarter came. I was thinking, 'OK, we're going to make a run right here,'" Harpring said. "I thought we started to, but we had a couple possessions there where things didn't go our way, and then they'd hit a big shot and kind of kill the momentum."
The Bobcats had five starters score in double figures as they improved to 2-3 on their trip, which ends in Dallas on Friday.
Facing a generally stingy defense, the Bobcats shot 52 percent (36-of-69) from the field and committed just nine turnovers, never letting the Jazz back in it once they gained control.
"The balance was really good. They shared the basketball, and that is what you really have to do against Utah because they play really good team defense," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I thought down the stretch our patience was really good. We didn't panic."
The Jazz entered Wednesday's game just 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference but absorbed a demoralizing loss to one of the league's worst teams.
"It's crazy because we're right there for the playoffs. They (the Bobcats) aren't playing for anything really, and they come out there and play hard. That's unbelievable," Jazz guard Milt Palacio said. "We can't lose games like this. This is going to hurt us and bite us on the (behind)."
Harpring scored 22 points and Palacio added 17 off the bench. Jazz leading scorer Mehmet Okur was held to just six on 2-of-9 shooting.
"I think we made it consistent to try to keep one or two people in Okur's face at all times," Wallace said. "I think we were able to come up and ... keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible."