CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Larry Brown spent Saturday morning watching his 9-year-old grandson play basketball. Final score: 9-8.
"We had 74 [points] at halftime," Brown said. "My grandson reminded me we had 59 against Boston."
That was Charlotte's final point total in the season opener. Nearly three months later, the Bobcats are on one of their best stretches in franchise history, with the transformation coinciding with Stephen Jackson's acquisition.
On a night where the Bobcats (19-19) led by as many as 39 points, set a team record for points in the first quarter (43), first half (74) and reached .500 this late in a season for the first time, Jackson led the way.
He scored 29 to surpass 10,000 career points, Gerald Wallace added 29 points and 13 rebounds and the Bobcats won their fourth straight game while extending their franchise-best home winning streak to seven.
"Stephen Jackson is a heck of a player," said befuddled Suns coach Alvin Gentry. "From the standpoint of isolations and 1-on-1 plays, he's probably as good as anybody in the league. He's got size, he can put the ball down. He's a terrific shooter with range."
Jackson toyed with the Suns, who had no energy a night after losing on a buzzer-beater at Atlanta. The only bright spot was Amare Stoudemire, who also reached 10,000 points, finishing with 19.
The Suns are just 10-14 after starting 14-3, with losses in 10 of their past 11 road games. Not playing tough defense will do that.
"We didn't slow them down at all," Gentry said. "I mean they're not a team to score a lot of points. They're averaging 93 points a game. They had that in the middle of the third quarter."
Jackson reached his milestone on a layup with 7:15 left in the second quarter. When the feat was announced to the crowd at the next timeout, Charlotte led 58-27.
The Bobcats, who hit their first six 3-point shots, led 74-47 at halftime and Wallace already had 24 points.
"I'm just excited about being on a team that wants to win and has a chance to go back to the playoffs," said Jackson, who had a falling out with Golden State coach Don Nelson before November's trade. "That's what I play this game for. I just want to go out there and be a factor every night."
To fans in Phoenix, it was the continuation of a rough day. Just as the Cardinals' ugly playoff loss to New Orleans went final, fans who turned the channel to basketball found the lethargic Suns down 31 points.
Later, Goran Dragic, who had been seeing increased playing time ahead of Jason Richardson, collided with DeSagana Diop early in the fourth quarter and limped to the locker room with a bruised right knee. It wasn't deemed serious and he could play Monday at Memphis as the team looks for something positive on a brutal road trip.
After blowing a 24-point lead in a loss Wednesday to Indiana, Phoenix gave up another lead and lost to Atlanta on Friday on Jamal Crawford's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Not even Gentry's return home -- he grew up about an hour away in Shelby, N.C. -- could keep the Suns from losing their third straight.
Gentry called a timeout 1:17 into the game and moments before Charlotte took a 12-0 lead on Jackson's 3. It was 43-22 after the first quarter.
The 27-year-old Stoudemire became the youngest player in Suns history to reach 10,000 points on a bucket midway through the third quarter that made it 85-54.
He got little help. Grant Hill shot 1 for 4 and had three points in 18 minutes, Steve Nash was 2 for 7 and had five points in 27 minutes, and the Suns failed to reach 100 points for the first time in 13 games.
"We've played some poor ball," Hill said. "We've got to figure out who we are, who we want to be."
The latest the 6-year-old Bobcats had been .500 was at 6-6 in the 2007-08 season. But with seven wins in the last eight games and two more left on this homestand, they are looking increasingly dangerous.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they made the playoffs," Gentry said. "And I wouldn't be surprised if they made it tough on somebody."
The Bobcats' previous record for points in a quarter was 42 against the Lakers in the 2006-07 season. They also scored 74 points in the first half of a loss to the Suns in 2005-06. ... The Suns locker room before the game had a big screen TV showing the Bobcats game from Friday. Another TV above it, with sound, showed Cardinals-Saints. Almost all eyes were on the NFL playoff game.
- Tommy Nunez Jr.
- John Goble
- Ed Malloy