Friday, November 5, 2004

Bobcats score first but fall in home debut vs. Wizards

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Primoz Brezec fought through a double-team, spun to his left and sank a layup for a 2-0 lead.

With that, the NBA was back in Charlotte after a two-year absence.

The Bobcats opened their first season Thursday night with a 103-96 loss to the Washington Wizards, failing to become the third consecutive expansion team to win its NBA debut.

Replacing the Hornets after they moved to New Orleans in 2002, the Bobcats are expected to struggle mightily this season. Still, they were in this one late as they tried to match Vancouver and Toronto (1995) as inaugural game winners.

But Charlotte fell short because of youth and inexperience midway through the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 85 when turnovers and poor shot selection allowed the Wizards to go on a game-deciding 9-0 run.

NETS: A day after signing his first long-term contract as an NBA head coach, Lawrence Frank wasn't in a mood to celebrate.

Between the joy of extending his childhood dream and the news conference to announce it Thursday, Frank had to watch his New Jersey Nets play a horrid game in a 100-77 season-opening loss to Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat.

It was the franchise's worst opening-night loss since joining the NBA in 1976.

Talk about letdowns just hours after signing a 4-year, $10 million contract extension.

"You can search for reasons and I take responsibility, but we just played out of character," Frank said. "We didn't have much of a presence out there."

Frank has re-signed to coach a team that has been transformed from the leading contender in the Eastern Conference to one that will be lucky to make the playoffs with Kenyon Martin gone and Jason Kidd sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury.

CAVALIERS: Cleveland forward Scott Williams left Thursday night's game against the Miami Heat because of an injured right pinky.

HAWKS: Atlanta center Jason Collier will miss at least two games because of severe bronchitis.

Collier played only five minutes Wednesday night in Atlanta's season opener, a 112-82 loss atPhoenix.

He missed all four of his shots.

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