Friday, March 20, 2009

TORONTO (AP) - Two days after a scary fall, Gerald Wallace was back playing his typical all-out game. The Charlotte Bobcats never expected anything different.

Wallace and Boris Diaw scored 30 points each to lead the Bobcats to a 102-89 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

“Gerald has no regard for his body,” Charlotte center Emeka Okafor said. “He just doesn’t care. He sacrifices for the team and he’s clearly our energy guy. He’s out there flying and diving and doing whatever it takes to win.”

Raymond Felton had 14 points and Wallace also had nine rebounds and eight assist to help Charlotte, which came in 1 1/2 games out of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, win its third straight.

“Gerald and Boris had a great game,” Felton said. “They really took over offensively.”

Chris Bosh scored 35 points and Andrea Bargnani added 27 for the Raptors, who have lost nine of their past 10. Toronto last played Monday at Charlotte, losing 112-86.

It was an impressive performance by Wallace, who slipped and bruised his left knee while driving to the basket in the second quarter of Wednesday’s home victory over Sacramento. Wallace limped through the second half of that game, then had an MRI Thursday to make sure the knee was structurally sound.

“He’s been a warrior,” Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. “We don’t beat Sacramento if he doesn’t play. When he went down, none of us thought he was going to play. Then he warmed up at halftime and wanted to play.”

Wearing a wrap on his tender knee, Wallace played 42 minutes and topped 25 points for the fourth consecutive game.

“I play off adrenaline,” Wallace said. “Nine times out of 10, my body is always sore. I just like to get in the game and keep playing. I tell coach, ‘Just let me go.’ I don’t like to sit down too long because I get stiff and everything. When I’m going I’m all right.”

Wallace wound up on the deck several times in this one, too, bouncing up angrily and exchanging words with Bargnani after being knocked down on a hard foul in the fourth.

“Like I told the refs, I just felt like he didn’t make a play for the ball,” Wallace said. “Their comment was he was going so fast, he wasn’t in a position to make a defensive play for the ball. He explained it like that and I left it alone.”

Felton said the Bobcats are getting used to seeing Wallace laid out on the court after taking a knock.

“He’s one of those guys, he takes some of the hardest falls ever and he gets right back up,” Felton said. “When he does that, I know he’s going to get back up so I don’t even worry about it.”

So, will Wallace ever play a game where he doesn’t wind up taking a few wild spills?

“Never,” Felton said emphatically. “He’s going to fall hard at least five times in every game, and that’s an understatement.”

Wallace certainly doesn’t plan to change his aggressive style.

“I’m used to hitting the floor a couple of times,” he said. “If I don’t hit the floor, I’m mad. That ain’t right, something’s wrong. I’m going to talk to the ref about that one.”

Wallace iced his knee briefly after the game and gave no reason to think he couldn’t play when the Bobcats host Indiana on Saturday night.

“Probably later on tonight, once everything settles down, I’m going to start feeling it but right now I’m good so I’m not complaining,” he said.

Diaw, who shot 15-for-21 and never went to the free-throw line, finished one point shy of his career high.

“When Boris plays the way he played tonight, inside and outside, he’s tough to guard,” Felton said. “I don’t think anybody in the league can guard him when he plays that way.”

Wallace had 12 points and Diaw added 10 as the Bobcats dominated inside in the first quarter, outscoring the Raptors 20-4 in the paint to lead 33-24 after one.

Wallace didn’t take a shot in the second and was held to a single free throw as Charlotte, after stretching its lead to 14, allowed Toronto to climb back in it. Bosh scored 16 points in the second as the Raptors answered their biggest deficit with a 24-12 run to pull to 52-50 at the break.

Wallace was back on his game in the third. He shot 5-for-5, including a pair of 3-pointers and a breakaway windmill dunk to give Charlotte an 82-70 lead heading into the fourth.

Notes:@ Bosh tied Vince Carter’s Toronto record for free throws in a half by going 14-for-14 in the first. Carter made 14 second-half free throws against Phoenix on Dec. 30, 2000. … Bosh started 18-for-18 from the line before missing. He finished 19-for-20. … Raptors coach Jay Triano picked up a technical foul for arguing a call in the first. … Okafor started despite missing Charlotte’s morning shootaround because of flu-like symptoms. … Former Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni, who has been observing the Raptors this week on behalf of general manager Bryan Colangelo, watched the game from the stands.

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