AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Richard Hamilton scored 22 points in just 24 minutes as the Chicago Bulls took a step closer to wrapping up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 100-68 rout of the dreadful Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.
Hamilton made his first seven shots from the field, including four from beyond the arc and the outcome was never in doubt.
Despite playing without leading scorers Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, the Bulls shot 48 percent from the floor and connected on 9 of 19 shots from 3-point range to bounce back from Tuesday night's surprising 87-84 loss to the Washington Wizards.
The Bulls had struggled of late losing four of their last eight coming in, but they still have the NBA's best record at 47-15 with four games remaining in the regular season.
Kemba Walker scored 16 points for the Bobcats, who've lost a franchise-record 18 straight games. If the Bobcats lose their final five games they will finish with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
Omer Asik had nine points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls, while Joakim Noah and John Lucas each scored 12 points.
The Bulls shot 55 percent in the first half and led by 19 in the second quarter.
Charlotte continued to struggle putting the ball in the basket.
For the second straight game they shot just 30 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, the Bulls seemed to score at will from both inside and outside as well as in transition.
The Bulls extended the lead to 24 in the third quarter behind 10 points from Hamilton. Hamilton seemed to take the Bulls on his shoulders, finishing the night 9 for 13 from the field, including 4 for 5 on 3s.
The Bobcats' night, and perhaps the season, could be best summed up in one embarrassing play when Matt Carroll had a breakaway layup but put if off the glass too strong and Byron Mullens, who seemed to be in position for a follow-up dunk, had the ball bounce off his hands and out of bounds for a turnover.
The crowed let out a collective "Ugh!" as Carroll clapped his hands together in disbelief.
NOTES: Tyrus Thomas, who was involved in a postgame locker room altercation with coach Paul Silas earlier this week, left the game with a sore right knee. He spent most of the first half riding a stationary bike trying to get it loose and only played three minutes. ... Charlotte's last win came on March 17.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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