CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Gerald Wallace spent a couple nights in the hospital earlier this season with a partially collapsed lung, so he was quick to reject a doctor's suggestion he make another trip there after crumpling to the court with a scary-looking left knee injury.
"I've seen enough hospitals for a while," Charlotte's top scorer said. "God willing I don't want to go back to the hospital for anything except say hi to the doc. I felt like if I kept going, kept moving, didn't let it get stiff, I'll be all right."
Wallace returned with a slight limp for the second half and finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds, willing the Bobcats to a much-needed 104-88 win over the short-handed Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
"It's kind of sore, but the way I play, I play with soreness, bangs and bruises," said Wallace, who will undergo an MRI Thursday to make sure the injury isn't serious. "It wasn't going to hold me back."
Emeka Okafor added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who pulled away in the fourth quarter and had much better injury luck than the NBA-worst Kings, who dropped to 0-28 against the Eastern Conference.
"We just have to get better production all around," coach Kenny Natt said after the Kings were outrebounded 52-28. "We just can't have one, two, three guys playing well and then the rest just giving in."
Beginning the night in the middle of a six-team logjam for the final playoff spot in the East, the Bobcats won for the eighth time in 11 games to remain 1½ games behind eighth-place Chicago.
"The way we ended that game, the way we played vs. Toronto, we've got to play every night like that from here out," Bobcats guard Raymond Felton said.
After being outscored 27-9 to close the game in Atlanta Tuesday, the Kings had a similar meltdown, watching Charlotte finish on a 17-5 run.
Sacramento had no go-to player after McCants left following his best performance of the season, and the Kings lost their fifth straight and fell to 4-31 on the road.
McCants hit 10 of 20 shots before limping to the locker room with 4:41 left with a sprained right ankle.
"I did it in the first quarter and just kind of shook it off a little bit," McCants said. "But it kind of came back to haunt me, fighting through the pain and all."
McCants got his first start as a King after Martin came down with a virus after he scored 31 points against the Hawks Tuesday. Martin stayed back at the hotel, leaving a huge void for the Kings on offense made worse by Nocioni's absence.
The forward, acquired in a three-team trade last month, has been slowed by tendinitis in his right quadriceps. Nocioni received treatment before the game, but Natt decided to rest him.
Francisco Garcia, starting for Nocioni, scored 17 points, but hit only seven of 21 shots. He also was called for a technical foul after a hard foul on Wallace midway through the fourth quarter.
It was the second -- and less scarier -- time Wallace crashed to the floor.
Late in the second quarter Wallace slipped on a drive and clutched his left knee as McCants scored off the turnover at the other end.
"I was definitely concerned. I thought he maybe -- I'm not even going to say," Felton said. "I thought it was pretty bad, I did."
But Wallace walked to the locker room, then returned and started the second half and eventually helped squash the Kings hopes to finally get a win against the East.
The Kings have just two more chances -- Friday at New York and Sunday at home against Philadelphia -- to avoid becoming the first NBA team to go winless against the other conference.
Referee Bill Kennedy worked the game without incident a night after he was the target of a rant by Boston coach Doc Rivers following his ejection in Chicago. ... After Bobcats C DeSagana Diop airballed two straight free throws in a 4-minute span of the second quarter, the crowd cheered wildly when he made one, leaving him 5-for-24 from the line since joining Charlotte. ... Pittsburgh Steelers K Jeff Reed, Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones and former NBA coach Paul Silas were in the crowd. ... Bobcats coach Larry Brown said he was "hopeful" they'll sign F Dontell Jefferson to a second 10-day contract this week.
- Bill Spooner
- Bill Kennedy
- Sean Wright