|New York @ Charlotte|
|95 - 105|
Two nights after a rare good performance, the uninspired play, the missed shots and the bad defense returned.
So did the bickering.
Gerald Wallace scored 27 points and the Charlotte Bobcats dominated New York 105-95 on Friday in a night that included a heated exchange between embattled Knicks coach Isiah Thomas and forward Quentin Richardson .
While both Thomas and Richardson tried to downplay the expletive-filled third-quarter argument that included assistant coach Herb Williams holding back Thomas, the Knicks are clearly in disarray - again.
"Sometimes you try to say some things to a player or say some things to your team just to get them motivated, to get some fire in them," Thomas said when asked to explain the incident. "There won't be any carry-over from it."
There wasn't any carry-over for the Knicks' blowout win over Cleveland on Wednesday, which came two days after Thomas questioned his team's heat and toughness.
Playing again without Stephon Marbury , who continues to grieve his father's death, the Knicks were consistently beaten off the dribble and allowed the Bobcats free reign inside.
Nazr Mohammed added 20 points and 14 rebounds and Jason Richardson and Emeka Okafor scored 17 points apiece for the Bobcats, who rolled out to a 24-point second-quarter lead.
Charlotte, the league's second-lowest scoring team, scored 67 points in the first half and shot 50 percent for only the second time this season.
While the Knicks made it respectable late, the game was never in doubt as Charlotte won its second straight game since part-owner Michael Jordan practiced with the team.
"I think we kind of left off from the last game," Wallace said.
Jordan's former playing rival had another nightmarish night. Calls for Thomas' ouster followed him on the road, as one fan in a Knicks jersey held up a sign reading "Hey Isiah, Santa's got your pink slip."
Thomas, who rarely got off the bench, did get agitated with Quentin Richardson near the bench, and the forward never returned to the game after the incident.
Quentin Richardson insisted it was "no big deal" and said everything was fine with Thomas.
"Why wouldn't we be?" he said. "Are you not going to be OK with your sister or your brother or whoever you get in a misunderstanding with? We're OK."
The team isn't. Nate Robinson scored 20 points for the Knicks, who dropped to 1-10 on the road.
Jamal Crawford added 16 points and Zach Randolph scored 15, but they combined to shoot 11-for-30.
"I thought that the whole group was bad, frankly," Thomas said. "We just had no fire, no competitiveness."
The Bobcats improved to 2-0 since Jordan's hands-on involvement earlier in the week, when he jumped into a practice drill with the team a day after sitting in on a film session.
On Wednesday, the Bobcats rallied from 12 points down with under six minutes to play against Utah. They needed no such comeback this time.
Coming in as the NBA's second-lowest scoring team at 92.1 points a game, Charlotte shot 58 percent in rolling out to a 67-44 halftime lead. Wallace had his way driving to the basket, scoring 20 points in the half. Richardson hit 3-of-4 3-pointers as the Knicks put up little resistance.
The Bobcats built the lead to 29 in the third quarter, only to see the Knicks get within 10 points with 3:35 left on Robinson's 3-pointer.
New York then went more than two minutes without scoring to end their faint hopes.
Mohammed continued his impressive play since being acquired by Charlotte last week in a trade with Detroit. Mohammed hit 8 of 11 shots, all four free throws and blocked four shots.
"I did not expect Nazr to be as good as he has been and he can only get better," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said.
The Knicks, meanwhile, got a lot worse after their surprising win over Cleveland Wednesday.
"It was extremely disappointing and puzzling," Thomas said.
Notes: Marbury missed his seventh game in the past 10. ... Bobcats F Othella Harrington missed his second straight game with pain from arthritis in his surgically repaired left knee. The injury has kept little-used rookie F Jermareo Davidson from starting a stint in the NBA Development League. ... Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens, in town for Saturday's game against the Carolina Panthers, chatted with several Knicks in front of their locker room before the game. He watched most of the game from a suite with NFL Network analysts Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders.