SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Once a seldom-used Kings reserve,
Gerald Wallace returned to Sacramento and enjoyed a starring role.
Wallace showed little remorse for the struggling Kings, scoring 27 points to help the Charlotte Bobcats win their first road game in nearly a month, defeating the Sacramento 98-91 Wednesday night.
Wallace was drafted by the Kings in 2001, but rarely played significant minutes for one of the NBA's top teams. He was taken by the Bobcats during the expansion draft in 2004 and has been a starter ever since.
"Sure, it's fun coming back here and showing my improvement," said Wallace, who also added six rebounds and two assists. "I never had the opportunity here and I was given that in Charlotte. It's the league. I was never bitter, I'm just glad I got somewhere that I can play."
It was another in a long line of lackluster games for the Kings, who have the NBA's worst record (12-47) and are on track to have their losingest season in franchise history.
The Kings have lost three straight and 17 of 19. The game drew the smallest crowd (10,439) in the current arena, which surprised Wallace, who was accustomed to boisterous sellout crowds when he was a King.
"It hurts, it hurts real bad," Wallace said. "I was here in the glory days when the energy was totally different. It's upside down now."
Sitting in a courtside seat near the bench, Charlotte managing partner Michael Jordan watched the struggling Bobcats get off to a fast start. Charlotte went on an 18-0 run in the first quarter and built a 14-point halftime lead.
The Kings trailed by as many as 24 points early in the fourth quarter, but even a 31-20 edge in the final period couldn't overcome their early problems.
"It's the same thing all over again - digging a hole for ourselves," Kings coach Kenny Natt said. "I think they shot nearly 60 percent in the first half. Somewhere along the line we're going to have to learn that it's important to do your homework early, not late."
Boris Diaw scored 23 points for Charlotte, which had dropped seven straight road games. Emeka Okafor had 13 points and 11 rebounds, DJ Augustin scored 12 points and Vladimir Radmanovic added 10.
Kevin Martin scored 23 points for the disjointed Kings, who added seven new players following last week's trading deadline. Francisco Garcia had 15 points, newcomer Drew Gooden scored 12 and collected 13 rebounds, and Andres Nocioni added 11 points.
Gooden played his first game since being traded last week by Chicago. Despite a strained groin keeping him sidelined since Jan. 19, Gooden looked good early, making his first two shots and getting eight points and six rebounds in the opening half.
"I didn't think I would be able to move and cut like that, but it caught up to me at the end of the game," said Gooden, who left in the fourth quarter when he appeared to aggravate the injury. "I made a move and it didn't feel right so I decided to sit down. I'm going to try and go out there and play (Friday against the Clippers). Until I can't go no more we will make a decision then."
Wallace continued to frustrate the Kings' defense in the third quarter when the Bobcats increased their lead to 78-60. He scored nine points, including an impressive one-handed, alley-oop dunk where Wallace went airborne along the baseline to grab a pass from Raymond Felton.
"It was nice, he caught the ball so high, it was just a great dunk," Diaw said.
It was Diaw and Wallace carrying most of offensive load for the Bobcats during a productive first half. Diaw made a pair of 3-pointers and scored 17 points, while the acrobatic Wallace had 16 to help Charlotte assume a 55-41 lead by intermission.
Wallace got the Bobcats off to a fast start, scoring 12 first-quarter points. Charlotte shot 60 percent and led 30-20 heading into the second quarter.
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