CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gerald Wallace expected to be fired up to play against the Sacramento Kings. Instead, he felt an overwhelming letdown when the group that took the floor looked nothing like his former team.
Still, Wallace had one of his best all-around games of the season in leading the Charlotte Bobcats to a 94-87 victory over the Kings on Tuesday night.
He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five steals against the team that drafted him. He spent three seasons with the Kings before they left him unprotected in the expansion draft.
"A lot of the excitement was down because a lot of the guys I played with are gone or didn't play," Wallace said. "The feeling wasn't there that I thought would be there. It didn't feel the same. It didn't feel like the same team."
The Kings are still juggling a new lineup created after trading Chris Webber to Philadelphia for Corliss Williamson, Brian Skinner and Kenny Thomas.
Plus, starters Brad Miller (calf contusion) and Peja Stojakovic (strained hamstring) were in street clothes, as was reserve Darius Songaila (strained foot).
"We got a win," Wallace said. "Whether its them or some other team, we came out with the win."
Wallace shot 7-of-12 from the floor - pretty good considering he sat out Charlotte's last game with a sprained wrist - and had a huge defensive rebound with the Bobcats leading 90-82 with 1:19 to play.
Sacramento's Mike Bibby missed a jumper and Wallace grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball up the court. Brevin Knight converted with a jumper that made it 92-82 with 58 seconds left.
Primoz Brezec led the Bobcats with 19 points, Knight had 17 points and 10 assists and Emeka Okafor had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Melvin Ely came off the bench to score 11.
Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff wasn't all that pleased with the victory, pointing to Sacramento's 48-40 rebounding advantage and Charlotte's 18 turnovers.
"We got a victory and we needed one," he said. "But you can't be satisfied with that unless you say 'On a bad night, we got it done.'"
Williamson, acquired last week in the trade for Chris Webber, led Sacramento with 18 points and all three players acquired from Philadelphia for Webber had decent games: Skinner had 15 points and 16 rebounds and Kenny Thomas had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
But Mobley (17 points) and Bibby (14) were off, combining to shoot 12-of-29 with 14 turnovers.
"The three guys who we got played hard, but our two guards really had a tough night," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "You are not going to go very far, especially with guys out and being short-handed, if Cuttino and Mike have games like that."
All of Sacramento's problems helped Charlotte build a 55-45 lead at halftime.
Charlotte was able to stretch its advantage to 17 points in the third quarter, but the Kings cut it to six midway through the third quarter at 66-60. But Charlotte closed the period with seven consecutive points and Theron Smith's 3-pointer right before the buzzer pushed the lead back to 73-60.
The fourth quarter got off to a slow start, but picked up in intensity when former Bobcat Eddie House and Keith Bogans were called for double technicals for jawing at each other while jostling for position at the free throw line.
House started five games and averaged 23 minutes before the Bobcats released him in December because he didn't want to take a diminished role after they signed Kareem Rush.
Now with his hometown Kings, House took a jab at Charlotte before the game when he said: "I didn't want to sit on the bench on a team that doesn't have a shot at the playoffs. If I was going to sit on the bench, I'll sit on the bench with a contender."
He finished with three points - all coming on a 3-pointer at the end of the game.
Notes: The Bobcats honored 23 local servicemen and women from 343rd Quartermaster Company of Rock Hill, S.C., who recently returned from Iraq by giving them courtside seats.... Songaila played at Wake Forest and married a former Demon Deacons tennis player who grew up just outside of Charlotte. Even though he was in street clothes Tuesday night, he was hurriedly chasing down tickets before the game. Teammate Bobby Jackson, who is from Salisbury but is on the injured list this season, bought 40 tickets to the game.