- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Gerald Wallace had 25 points and 12 rebounds and the Charlotte Bobcats beat short-handed Sacramento 104-88 on Wednesday to keep the Kings winless against the Eastern Conference.

Emeka Okafor added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who pulled away in the fourth quarter as the Kings played without top scorer Kevin Martin (illness), Andres Nocioni (quadriceps) and then lost Rashad McCants (ankle) after he scored 30 points.

Beginning the night in the middle of a six-team logjam for the final playoff spot in the East, the Bobcats won their second straight while the NBA-worst Kings fell to 0-28 against the East.

McCants, starting for Martin, hit 10 of 20 shots before limping to the locker room with 4:41 left with a sprained right ankle.

Coach Kenny Natt said Martin first started feeling ill before he scored 31 points in Tuesday’s loss to Atlanta. But it got worse after the flight to Charlotte, and 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.

But Wallace walked to the locker room, then returned and started the second half as the Kings rallied.

Trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, McCants scored 13 points in the third quarter and Sacramento led briefly before Charlotte regained a 78-70 lead entering the fourth.

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 that included Spencer Hawes getting called for a technical foul for complaining about a foul.

Sacramento had no go-to player after McCants left following his season-high performance, and the Kings lost their fifth straight and fell to 4-31 on the road.

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.

Notes:@ 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. … 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.

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