CHARLOTTE, N.C. &
With a tough road schedule at the end of the season, the Charlotte Bobcats knew they had to get off to a quick start.
Through 10 games, they're in pretty good shape.
Behind Gerald Wallace's third straight game of 27 points and a stifling defense that shut down LaMarcus Aldridge, the Bobcats beat the Portland Trail Blazers 101-92 on Monday night.
The Bobcats' second straight win and third in a row at home left them 6-4, the best they've been in their four-year history.
"All playoff teams take advantage of home games," Wallace said. "Those are easy cover-ups for tough nights when you're out on the road."
With their arena set to host three college basketball tournaments in the spring, the Bobcats will be on the road for 18 of their final 27 games. If they're going to make the playoffs for the first time, they'll have to take advantage of playing 27 of their first 42 at home.
"We know we have to have a great start," guard Raymond Felton said. "We're on the road for just about all of March."
Felton had 24 points and 10 assists and Jason Richardson scored 24 points. They teamed with Wallace, who hit 10 of 19 shots and had a key dunk, steal and layup in Charlotte's decisive run midway through the fourth quarter, to drop the Trail Blazers to 0-7 on the road.
Portland coach Nate McMillan kept the locker room closed for almost 20 minutes after the game, and he could be heard yelling at the team from the hallway.
"Nobody is going to come here and rescue us," McMillan said. "We have 15 guaranteed contracts. We can't bring in anybody to help with the situation right now. We've got to get it done."
Aldridge couldn't against the Bobcats.
Portland's leading scorer and rebounder coming into the game, Aldridge got into early foul trouble and was held to seven points and one rebound in 20 minutes on 2-for-6 shooting. Aldridge had been averaging 19.5 points and 8.1 rebounds.
"It's toughness. We're getting pushed around," McMillan said. "Not to blame LaMarcus and Joel (Przybilla), but the two of those guys had two rebounds. We've got to have more boards than that."
Jarrett Jack scored 18 points, Brandon Roy had 17 on 4-for-13 shooting and Martell Webster scored 15 for Portland, which committed 19 turnovers.
"They were really physical inside," Roy said. "Once we came back on them, they just continued to pound us."
Wallace's dunk with a little more than 9 minutes left put Charlotte ahead to stay. Following Felton's 3-pointer, Wallace stole the ball from Roy &
one of his six steals &
and dunked it at the other end to extend Charlotte's lead to 84-76.
Richardson's layup on the next possession made it a 10-point game.
Richardson scored 14 points in the third quarter, including consecutive 3-pointers to give the Bobcats a 50-40 lead. But Portland rallied despite Aldridge being on the bench with four fouls for the final 10 minutes of the quarter.
Webster's 3-pointer in the final seconds cut Charlotte's lead to 63-61 entering the fourth. Portland then took the lead on Roy's turnaround jumper and Jack's three-point play to start the fourth quarter.
One of Portland's problems this season &
played a role early. Wallace had three steals and dunks in the first quarter and Charlotte built a 39-31 lead.
Despite getting a combined 1-for-9 shooting from Aldridge and Roy in the first half, the Trail Blazers rallied to get to 40-36 at halftime when Steve Blake's swished a midcourt heave at the buzzer.
Charlotte's depth proved to be too much in the second half.
"We've got scorers from all ends," Felton said. "All of us are capable of putting the ball in the basket."
Notes: Portland C Greg Oden, traveling with the team as he recovers from microfracture knee surgery, has changed his workout regimen to include less weightlifting after gaining more than 20 pounds of muscle in less than two months. "I'm still eating right. I'm just not lifting every day," said Oden, who weighs 280 pounds. ... Portland rookie Josh McRoberts played a minute and didn't score in his first game of the season after spraining his ankle in the preseason.
Wallace, Bobcats keep Trail Blazers winless on road
CHARLOTTE, N.C. &