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Wallace rounding into form as Bobcats turn down Heat, end five-game skid

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace is the first to admit that he's not quite playing his best basketball yet.

But a 98-percent Wallace was more than the Miami Heat could handle Saturday.

Wallace scored 26 points, Jason Richardson had 24, and the Bobcats held off an early fourth-quarter rally to beat the Heat 94-82 and snap a five-game losing streak.

Nazr Mohammed added 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Raymond Felton had 10 assists for Charlotte, which saw a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter trimmed to three points early in the fourth.

"I was happy to see our guys mentally stable, especially after five losses," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "Gerald is really getting back into his form. He's not settling for the jump shot and he's attacking the rim. ... He is, in big part, the heart and soul of this team. When he's going and going well, this team is pretty strong."

Wallace had his best scoring game since returning to the Bobcats' lineup after he was knocked unconscious by an inadvertent elbow from Sacramento forward Mikki Moore on Feb. 22.

The concussion -- Wallace's fourth in four seasons -- forced him to miss eight games, and hampered his play during Charlotte's two-week, six-game road stretch.

"This is the first game since I've been back that I felt pretty good out on the court," Wallace said. "I was moving good and my energy was good. ... I'm still not 100 percent -- maybe 95 to 98 percent -- but I'm close. I'm getting there."

Jason Williams scored 19 points, Ricky Davis had 15 and Chris Quinn 14 for injury-riddled Miami, which dressed just nine players in losing its third straight and 11th in 12 games in March.

Ahead by seven points entering the second half, the Bobcats opened the third quarter with a 10-3 run, capped by Emeka Okafor's layup with 7:42 left that put Charlotte up 56-42.

However, the Heat -- missing starters Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, Alexander Johnson and Dorell Wright among the seven players out with injuries -- fought back, with back-to-back layups by Williams cutting the Bobcats' lead to 73-70 with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter.

"I thought we were competitive," said Miami assistant Ron Rothstein, who led the team for the second consecutive game in place of coach Pat Riley, who is scouting prospective draft picks at this week's NCAA tournament. "We did a good job of battling back. But they made a nice adjustment against our smaller lineup and started going inside."

But Mohammed hit a hook shot, Wallace dropped in a layup and Richardson made a three-point play and a pair of 3-pointers during a 21-8 run that put Charlotte ahead 94-78 with 4:30 remaining.

"It was very important to get this win," Richardson said. "We were on a five-game losing streak, coming off a five-game winning streak, and we know it's going to be a tough road trip coming up, with four games in five nights. It was good to get a home win to get us back on track."

Matt Carroll nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to open the second quarter and put the Bobcats up 19-17 -- their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. But Quinn followed with a jumper 44 seconds later to tie the score, setting off a run that saw the sides swap the lead three times and tie the score six others.

Charlotte finally went ahead to stay late in the second quarter on Richardson's three-point play with 1:16 left. He followed that with a pair of free throws, and Okafor hit a jumper with 30 seconds remaining to give the Bobcats a 46-39 lead at the break.

Game notes
Riley is expected to be back with the Heat when they play at Milwaukee on Monday. ... Charlotte won three of four games against Miami this season. However, the Heat still lead the all-time series, 10-7. ... Miami signed forward Stephane Lasme and guard Blake Ahearn to 10-day contracts Friday, and opted to not resign 6-7 forward Bobby Jones to a second 10-day contract. The Heat also called up forward Kasib Powell from Sioux Falls of the NBA Development League on Saturday.


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