By Matt Rochinski
October 13, 2007
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GREENSBORO, NC - Don't tell Gerald Wallace it's only the preseason.
"There's no preseason, there's no offseason - whenever you step out on the court, you want to win," the Bobcats swingman said Saturday. "No matter what I'm doing, when I step out on the court I try to win."
Miami got Wallace's message loud and clear in front of 14,525 at the Greensboro Coliseum, as he led the Bobcats to their first 2007 preseason victory, 92-76, over the Heat.
Wallace finished with a game-high 19 points and added five rebounds, five assists and four steals in 27 minutes of action. He also hit the ground 14 times - yes, 14 times. At least by teammate Jeff McInnis' count - he could be heard keeping track with some of his teammates on the sidelines.
"(McInnis) didn't tell me about that," Wallace laughed. "But I think it was one of the coaches who told me and was messing with me saying, ‘You do know your contract is guaranteed right? You know they're not going to cut you?' I understand, but it's just the way I play."
Three preseason games into his head coaching tenure with the Bobcats, Sam Vincent is experiencing firsthand what has made Bobcats coaches, players and fans alike cringe when Wallace hits the floor on either end of the court, usually after a spectacular offensive or defensive play.
"I love his passion, I love his energy, and man, he gets in the passing lanes great," Vincent said of his co-captain. "What concerns me is how often he is on the floor. I actually mentioned to him that I cringe every time he falls. I don't want him falling that many times, so we're going to have to come up with something. I'm not sure what it is, but I really don't want to see Gerald falling that much."
Wallace said he's well aware of Vincent's concern.
"I think we can come to an agreement, but he might cut me," Wallace laughed. "It's just the way I play - the passion that I have and my love for the game. I just play all out, and hitting the floor is nothing new to me. I feel like after the game if I didn't hit the floor enough times, then I really wasn't playing. It's fun for me."
What's fun for Wallace can be nerve-wracking for others. So how do you go about keeping this irresistible force from hitting immovable objects?
"There were a lot of things that we did well. My biggest focus is building a solid step. Our offense got better and defense got better."
-- Head Coach Sam Vincent
Last year his teammates hung a "No Diving" sign in Wallace's locker. That didn't work, so Vincent might take another route - one just short of sending him on the in full-body armor.
"Maybe we get him some elbow pads and knee pads," Vincent half-joked. "It's a long year and we're going to need him and his energy."
With newcomer Jason Richardson not with the team in Greensboro for a family reason, Wallace was the spark Charlotte needed on Saturday. After falling behind 9-3 early in the first quarter, G-Force scored nine points in a 19-4 run that put the Bobcats up 22-13 with 3:29 left in the frame, and they never trailed from that point.
Wallace led four Bobcats scoring in double-digits, followed by Matt Carroll (17 points), Raymond Felton (13) and Adam Morrison (10). Six other Charlotte players finished with five-or-more points in what was a complete team effort.
"It feels good, not only to get the win but to see the progress of our team in the past three games," Wallace said. "In the first game (in Orlando), we came out and embarrassed ourselves and looked bad. The second game (in Atlanta), we got a little better and you could see the improvement. Now, in the third game, the progress is evident. I think we're taking the right steps... Hopefully the next five game we'll continue to improve and be where we want to be as we head into the regular season."
NOTES: Props to second-year guard/forward Adam Morrison. He's the only Bobcats player to score in double-digits in all three games this preseason... Sharpshooter Matt Carroll was lighting things up against the Heat. He finished the night shooting 6-9 from the field and 3-4 from three-point range... Gerald Wallace got to the charity stripe (15 times), seven less times than the entire Heat team (22) but managed to connect on only one fewer freebie, 12-13... So why was Charlotte able to run away with this one? Literally because it was on the run. Charlotte scored 30 points off 21 Miami turnovers and outscored the Heat on the break16-6... On Friday, the Bobcats waived centers Deji Akindele and Marcus Campbell and forward Gabe Muoneke. All three players signed as free agents on Oct. 1, prior to the start of training camp. Muoneke appeared in both Bobcats preseason games and averaged 4.0 points and 1.0 rebound in 9.0 minutes. Akindele played four minutes against Atlanta in his only preseason appearance. Campbell, who spent the 2005-06 preseason with the Bobcats, did not see game action.