CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gerald Wallace was honored with a video tribute, two standing ovations and numerous chants of his name in his first game back in Charlotte since last month’s jolting trade.
But it was his best friend on his old club that got the better of him when it mattered most.
Stephen Jackson scored 18 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead three-point play on a drive around Wallace in the final minute, and the Bobcats beat the Portland Trail Blazers 97-92 on Friday night to spoil Wallace’s emotional return.
In his first game back from a hamstring injury, Jackson finished one point shy of Wallace’s team record for points in a quarter as Charlotte snapped a six-game losing streak.
“We sat back and let him get going and all of a sudden he found his groove,” Wallace said of Jackson. “I’ve seen him in that zone plenty of times.”
Wallace, the last original member of the seven-year-old Bobcats and their only All-Star, was traded last month for role players and draft picks, a move owner Michael Jordan said would give them “flexibility” to rebuild the roster in the next few years.
Wallace, who had 13 points and nine rebounds, fouled Jackson on his twisting layup to put Charlotte ahead to stay with 48 seconds left. Wallace later fouled out.
“It’s a lot of love there. We both want to win, but the respect is unbelievable,” said Jackson, who also had 10 rebounds. “I love him to death and I wish him the best, but we needed this game more than they did.”
Wesley Matthews scored 20 points for the Blazers, but missed one of two free throws with 5.6 seconds left and Portland trailing by two. Patrick Mills then missed two more free throws and Andre Miller also had a key turnover in the final minute as Portland’s four-game winning streak was snapped.
“Of course Jackson got hot, but we play much better than that,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.
D.J. Augustin and D.J. White each scored 16 points for the Bobcats and went 4 of 4 from the line in the final 5 seconds.
The victory moved Charlotte into a tie with slumping Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and snapped Portland’s seven-game road winning streak on an emotional night.
“It was a challenge,” Wallace said.
A day after saying the Feb. 24 trade was a “stab in the back,” he got to be Charlotte’s fan favorite for one more night.
Before the national anthem, the Bobcats played a short video of highlight clips and a picture of Wallace in his 2010 All-Star uniform. It finished with the words “Thank You” before the team’s public address announcer did his signature introduction of “G-G-G-Gerald Wallace,” with his last name echoing as the crowd cheered and Wallace waved.
“I felt appreciated,” he said.
While one fan held a sign reading “We love you Gerald!” Jordan was not in his courtside seat for the tribute, arriving after the lineups were announced a few minutes later.
Wallace, who is not starting for Portland, received another loud ovation when he checked in midway through the first quarter. Jackson even clapped on the court.
“I heard the standing ovation, the cheer. It was heartwarming,” Wallace said. “I think they miss me as much as I miss them.”
Saying he was worried about “letting my emotions get the best of me,” Wallace got off to a slow start before hitting consecutive 3-pointers late in the third quarter as Portland took a 70-64 lead.
But then Jackson got going with a little preening early in the fourth quarter after a rough start following a three-game absence.
After rebounding his 12th missed shot in 15 attempts, Jackson muscled the ball in and was fouled. He then flexed and pointed to his biceps.
That started a stretch of five straight baskets, including two 3-pointers as Charlotte built a 86-77 lead with under 6 minutes to play.
Portland rallied behind a thunderous dunk by Wallace, but the demonstrative Jackson was putting on his imaginary title belt at the end.
“They will be real dangerous in the playoffs and I can’t wait to see him play,” Jackson said of Wallace’s Blazers. “If we don’t make it, I guarantee I’ll go to one of their games.”
Wallace scored 19 points in the third quarter against Sacramento last season. … Struggling Bobcats F Boris Diaw didn’t play in the fourth quarter. … Charlotte F Tyrus Thomas had two points and six rebounds in 24 minutes in his first game back from knee surgery. … C Joel Przybilla, acquired from Charlotte in the Wallace trade, missed his second straight game with pain in his surgically-repaired right knee and could miss another week. … Former Bobcats coach and GM Bernie Bickerstaff said he’s “having a ball” as an assistant under McMillan. … A moment of silence was held before the game for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.