Bobcats fall apart early as Bulls cruise to win

CHICAGO (AP) -- Ben Gordon could feel it immediately, and just like that, he piled up the points like a certain Chicago Bulls legend.

He finished with only 23, but that was enough to lead the Bulls to a 115-76 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday and draw a comparison to the man whose number 23 hangs from the United Center's rafters.

"We were joking in the shower, saying it was (Michael Jordan) out there tonight," Charlotte's Gerald Wallace said. "It seemed like it."

Gordon scored 18 in the second quarter, and the Bulls earned their 13th victory in 15 games.

Chicago went on a 20-2 run midway through the first half to grab a 39-21 lead and never looked back.

Gordon was 8-of-9 and made both of his 3-point attempts, nearly matching the Bobcats' point total during a second quarter in which Chicago outscored Charlotte 31-20. He was 10-of-14 for the game.

"Sometimes, the ball just bounces your way," Gordon said. "I'm just working, trying to have more nights like that, continuing to try to get better."

Andres Nocioni added 21 points and 11 rebounds. Ben Wallace grabbed just three rebounds, but blocked five shots and scored 11.

The Bobcats were without starting point guard Brevin Knight, who aggravated a strained right groin during a victory over Utah on Friday. Without him, they quickly fell out of sync.

Emeka Okafor had six points -- 9.4 below his average -- on 3-of-9 shooting to go with 12 rebounds. Raymond Felton was 4-for-15 and scored 10 for the Bobcats, while Melvin Ely led the Bobcats with 13.

Charlotte was 32-of-90 from the field, while Chicago hit 43 of 82 field goals.

"This was our worst game," Okafor said. "Usually, we match teams' energy and intensity, but we didn't do that tonight."

After starting 3-9, the Bulls have taken advantage of a schedule that's heavy on home games and weak opponents. They're a league-leading 12-2 at the United Center, after going 21-20 there last year. And they wasted little time pouncing on the Southeast Division's last-place team, after falling 103-92 the previous night at New York.

"I think our focus is there," guard Chris Duhon said. "We made a point of emphasis before the year that we're going to be a great home team, and I think we just have extra focus when we play here."

Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he realized it would be a long night for his team "when they threw the ball up," but the onslaught didn't begin until the Bobcats' Matt Carroll hit a jumper to tie it at 19. The Bulls then scored the final five points of the first quarter and blew it open in the second.

Gordon, who finished with 27 at New York, scored the Bulls' first seven points of the period, and Thabo Sefolosha banked in a turnaround jumper and threw in a ferocious transition dunk in a 20-second span that made it 35-21. Charlotte called time, but the Bulls didn't stop.

Sefolosha, who finished with 14 points, threw a crosscourt pass to Wallace for a layup, and Gordon continued to have his way. It was reminiscent of his performance against Philadelphia on Dec. 6, when Gordon scored 17 of his 31 points in the first quarter of a 121-94 victory.

"I felt like if it had not been Ben, it would have been someone else," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "That is not to take anything away from Ben, but we were just on tonight. Our guys were into this game. I could tell at the shootaround that last night stung us a little bit and that was good. We used it for motivation."

Game notes
Knight, averaging 11.9 points and a team-high 7.3 assists, has missed five of the past eight games. ... Charlotte F Sean May missed his third game with a sprained right ankle. ... C Martynas Andriuskevicius, assigned to the NBA Development League's Dakota Wizards by the Bulls, was recovering from a minor skull fracture and a concussion Saturday, two days after he was punched by a teammate. Police said the 7-foot-2 Andriuskevicius was knocked unconscious with a blow to the head during a fight in practice. The Wizards announced that Awvee Storey was suspended indefinitely and that the D-League was investigating. The NBA also is looking into it.