Okafor shines for Cats; Sheed, Heard ejected

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Rasheed Wallace thinks he's the NBA's
reigning bad boy since Indiana's Ron Artest was suspended for the

Wallace was thrown out of Detroit's 91-89 loss to the Charlotte
Bobcats on Tuesday night for picking up two technicals.

The first was for throwing his headband into the stands in
disgust after a fourth quarter turnover. The second technical was
for arguing that he did nothing wrong.

"Now I know with Artest out, I know I'm back on that
blacklist," Wallace said. "I've got that target on my back."

Wallace said the second technical came when he was arguing that
throwing something into the stands is not a foul.

"I knew it wasn't the case for the simple fact that I did it a
couple of times this year and Ben [Wallace] did it," he said.
"That's crazy. I guess it's just a fallout from the other night.
People think that sometimes it's me complaining, but it's not ... I
got something for it, though. I'm going to have the last laugh in

The Pistons should make it into the playoffs, but will have a
hard time repeating as NBA champions if they play the way they did
against the Bobcats.

The Bobcats won for just the second time this season, and became
the first expansion team to beat the reigning NBA champion since
Portland and Buffalo defeated the New York Knicks during the
1970-71 season.

They did it behind Emeka Okafor, who had the best game of his
young rookie season with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

"We made the statement before that we're not just an expansion
team, but it means more if we win," Okafor said. "It just kind of
shows that we're legit, and `expansion' is just a label."

The Pistons had all their players back from suspensions stemming
from their brawl last Friday with the Pacers except for Ben
Wallace, who sat out the second of six games.

But they never hit a rhythm, and trailed almost the entire game
and by as many as 21.

Charlotte, which lost 117-116 in double overtime Sunday night in
Detroit when the Pistons' had just eight players, jumped on them
early but had to hold on for the win.

The Bobcats saw their lead whittled down to six before Okafor
came up with three big defensive rebounds and a layup with 40
seconds to play to push the lead to 85-77.

Tayshaun Prince answered with a basket for Detroit, and after
Brevin Knight hit a pair of free throws for Charlotte, Chauncey
Billups made a 3 to cut Charlotte's lead to 87-82 with 22 seconds
to go.

The Pistons had to foul, and Charlotte made four of six down the
stretch to make Lindsey Hunter's 3-pointer at the buzzer

"We're good, but we ain't the champs no more," said Billups,
who was suspended for Sunday's game but came back to lead Detroit
with 24 points. "That's over with. They kicked our butts."

Keith Bogans scored 18 points for Charlotte, Gerald Wallace had 17 points and Knight had 19 assists.

Richard Hamilton scored 14, and Prince and Antonio McDyess had 13 each.

The Bobcats didn't raise their usual level of security for the
game, the first at the Charlotte Coliseum since the Pistons-Pacers
melee Friday. Instead, they shuffled some of their uniformed police
officers to place an increased presence behind both benches.

There was one light moment when, after a timeout, Okafor tossed
a cup of water toward a garbage can. It missed, and slightly
splashed along the scorer's table.

"Sorry! My bad!" he quickly apologized, with a smile.

And the only thing that went into the stands was Rasheed
Wallace's headband. Gar Heard, filling in for Pistons coach Larry
Brown, argued with the technical and was thrown out of the game
moments before Wallace was.

"I might say something that costs me some money," Heard said
in declining to speak to the media.

Game notes
The Bobcats are reconsidering an advertising campaign that
mocks opposing players as part of the fallout from the
Pacers-Pistons brawl, team president Ed Tapscott said. ... There
was no crowd reaction when former Hornet Elden Campbell, now with
the Pistons, checked into the game, but Derrick Coleman, reviled
during his days in Charlotte, was booed every time he checked into
the game. ... Knight had all seven of Charlotte's first quarter
assists. ... At one point in the third quarter, with Detroit
trailing by double digits, Rasheed Wallace yelled at the Bobcats
bench "Put Smitty in so we can come back." He was referring to
veteran Steve Smith, who didn't check into the game until there was
30 seconds left to play.


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