CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Jermaine O’Neal and Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 20 points apiece and the Indiana Pacers pulled away in the fourth quarter to win their season opener, 106-99 over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

Stephen Jackson added 18 points to help the Pacers spoil the NBA debut of Bobcats rookie Adam Morrison, who scored 14.

Emeka Okafor had 19 points, 13 rebounds and a team record-tying six blocks for the Bobcats, who lost Gerald Wallace in the second quarter to dizziness, neck and back injuries after he hit his head on the floor following a flagrant foul by Danny Granger.

It marked the first game for the Bobcats since Michael Jordan became a part owner with the final say on all personnel decisions. But Jordan spent the entire game in a suite and was never introduced to the crowd.

The Pacers, trying to move to an up-tempo offense, took their first lead on Jeff Foster’s layup midway through the third quarter. They led by as many as 14 in the fourth, overcoming 41 percent shooting.

Morrison, the No. 3 pick in the draft, entered midway through the first quarter and hit his first shot, a leaner along the left baseline. Morrison’s liability – defense – showed itself early as he picked up two fouls trying to guard Jackson.

Morrison, who shot 5-for-13, brought fans to their feet at the end of the first quarter. Catching an inbounds pass deep on the left side, he spun around and drained a 41-foot shot.

But the Bobcats, who led 13-4, couldn’t sustain the momentum due to 22 turnovers and the loss of their leading scorer from last season.

Wallace was going in for a dunk when Granger swiped at the ball from behind, hitting both of Wallace’s arms and his shoulder. Wallace’s head hit the floor first and he was attended to for several minutes before getting to his feet.

Othella Harrington rushed over and shoved Granger, who was not ejected. No fight ensued, but Harrington and Jasikevicius were called for technical fouls.

Sean May had 10 points and 10 rebounds filling in for Charlotte at center for Primoz Brezec, who will miss about two weeks due to exhaustion.

Notes: New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter attended the game. While the Bobcats never showed Jordan on the big screen, they did show Jeter during a fourth-quarter timeout. … Pacers president Larry Bird sees some similarities between himself and Morrison. “He’ll learn how to do it,” Bird said before the game. “He’s a smart player. They said the same thing about me.” … Al Harrington, in his first game back with Indiana after being reacquired in an offseason trade with Atlanta, had eight points and five fouls in 20 minutes. … Jackson is facing a felony charge after being accused of firing a gun outside a strip club in October.

AP-ES-11-01-06 2203EST



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