It's been six years since Wallace was mostly a forgotten player on a championship-caliber team. But he certainly had the Kings organization remembering what they lost after a season-high 38 points and 11 rebounds led the Bobcats to a 103-96 victory over Sacramento on Saturday.
Wallace keyed the decisive third quarter when the Bobcats pulled away by outscoring Sacramento 34-13. Scoring on several uncontested baskets inside against the Kings' uninspired defense, Wallace had 19 points to help Charlotte take a 90-67 lead into the fourth quarter.
Drafted by the Kings in 2001, Wallace rarely left the bench in three seasons with Sacramento. He was picked in the expansion draft by Charlotte in 2004 and has thrived in his eighth season, becoming the first player in Bobcats history to make the All-Star game.
"It doesn't matter anymore, any feelings I have about playing here are gone," Wallace said. "None of the players are here anymore that I played with."
What mattered most to Wallace was the Bobcats winning their third straight road game after losing 17 of their first 20. The Bobcats are no longer a league doormat, with a 24-22 record overall, including a 18-5 mark at home. They finish a six-game road trip by playing Portland on Sunday and the Lakers on Tuesday.
"It's time to make a statement going into the All-Star break," Wallace said.
An athletic forward who plays at full speed at both ends of the court, Wallace made 12 of 18 shots, hit 12 of 15 free throws, had two steals, and came up with two huge blocked shots in the closing minutes.
"It was a fantastic all-star performance," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "I told our players this was a young guy struggling with the Kings. They had to let him go and didn't want to. But he kept improving and now he's playing up to his potential right now."
Nazr Mohammed had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats. After consecutive 30-point games, Stephen Jackson shot the ball poorly (5 of 19) and had 13 points and eight assists. Flip Murray also had 13 points.
Kings rookie guard Tyreke Evans, who bruised his left hip and only played seven minutes in the second half, had four points, one more than his season-low against Memphis. Evans had 34 points in a Jan. 18 game in Charlotte.
"It was bothering me when I got up this morning, but I thought I could go when I got in the flow of the game," said Evans, who had seven assists in nearly 29 minutes. "Afterward I thought I shouldn't have played. That's the lesson you learn."
With the Bobcats struggling on offense in the fourth quarter, the Kings mounted a comeback. Martin made a difficult driving layup and followed with a steal and a dunk, pulling the Kings within 100-96.
But Raymond Felton quickly scored at the other end for Charlotte and Wallace added a late free throw to secure the victory.
"In the third quarter we rebounded, we defended, we got out and ran, and passed the ball," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "We did everything they did in the fourth quarter. I'm disappointed in the way we finished, but it's another road win on this trip. My wife always says, celebrate the wins because the losses hurt."
Wallace made his first eight shots and ignited the Bobcats in the third quarter. Wallace finished on two alley-oops late in the quarter, the second one giving Charlotte an 83-59 lead with 2:54 remaining.
"That third quarter was a mess," Thompson said.
Wallace made all six shots and scored 14 points in the opening half when the Bobcats led 56-54. Martin had 21 points for the Kings, who were outscored 27-21 in the second quarter.
- Annie Wersching from the hit show 24, attended the game.
- The Kings have lost seven of their past 10 home games.
- The Bobcats shot 3 of 18 in the fourth quarter.