Charlotte 104, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 100

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 20 (AP) -- Raymond Felton and Chris Paul insist there is no added incentive to perform when they face each other.

Their teammates disagree.

Felton had 21 points and 11 assists and outplayed Paul in a matchup of second-year point guards to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to a 104-100 win over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets on Tuesday night.

"They're very competitive and they're very good friends, so I think when they play, both of them are on their toes,'' Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace said. "They're trying to be aggressive and it made for an exciting game tonight.''

Felton, the fifth pick in the 2005 draft and former North Carolina star, scored nine points in the fourth quarter when the Bobcats pulled away in a bruising game that included a shoving match and five technical fouls.

Paul, the fourth pick in the draft and a former college rival of Felton when he played at Wake Forest, had 20 points and seven assists, but the Hornets lost for only the fourth time in 13 games.

"We're very good friends, but at the same time he's just like any other point guard in the league,'' Paul said.

Teammate Tyson Chandler isn't so sure.

"I'm sure playing against any of the good point guards in the league, he's always going to go at them and try to improve his ranking in the league,'' Chandler said.

The Hornets led by one going into the fourth quarter, when Felton scored five quick points to put the Bobcats ahead. Matt Carroll's 3-pointer with just under 6 minutes left made it 89-84.

Just over a minute later, Felton blew by Paul and fed Wallace for a layup to complete a 7-0 run and put Charlotte ahead 98-90.

Jannero Pargo's 3-pointer with 31 seconds left cut the lead to 102-100, but Derek Anderson, in his first game back from an ankle injury, hit two free throws with 6 seconds left to put it away.

Wallace had 21 points and Emeka Okafor added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Bobcats, who won their second straight game.

"We're starting to learn how to finish games now,'' Felton said. "If that was us last year, we probably wouldn't have pulled that out.''

Desmond Mason scored 17 points, David West scored 16 and Chandler had 16 points and 20 rebounds for the Hornets, who lost despite a 47-36 rebounding edge.

It marked the third time the Hornets have returned to Charlotte since they left for New Orleans in 2002 after a bitter dispute over a new arena. With a complete turnover of the roster and coaching staff, only a handful of support staff members and broadcasters remain from the Charlotte team. And there was little buzz in the crowd until a mini-skirmish midway through the third quarter.

Jake Voskuhl fouled Paul on a drive to the basket and kept Paul's arm pinned to his side. Paul lunged at Voskuhl, then reached around and threw the ball at Voskuhl's shoulder. Chandler came over and pushed Voskuhl, and then Mason and Wallace started shoving. Adam Morrison and West ran into the scrum before the officials separated everyone.

Paul, West, Voskuhl, Wallace and Morrison were all called for technical fouls, but no one was ejected.

A minute later, Wallace set a blind pick on Paul at midcourt, knocking him to the floor - and the rest of the game had playoff-like intensity.

"They won the game, so I say it brought their emotion and their intensity up more than ours,'' Hornets coach Byron Scottsaid. "We don't have the killer instinct, period. We're comfortable at home, but on the road we're not a very good team right now.''

New Orleans/Oklahoma City fell to 8-18 on the road.

The Bobcats' injury problems continued to grow as Jeff McInnis, who sprained his right ankle in practice Monday, joined Brevin Knight (groin), Sean May (knee) and Othella Harrington (knee) in street clothes.

Notes: Bobcats coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff said he wasn't upset that part-owner Michael Jordan did not mention him in a letter to fans sent out this week. "I hadn't thought about that. It certainly didn't offend me,'' said Bickerstaff, whose status for next season is uncertain. ... Paul, from nearby Winston-Salem, bought 350 tickets for friends and family members. ... Hornets F Peja Stojakovic, out since undergoing back surgery in November, did some light shooting and running before the game. He still hopes to return by the end of the season.


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