CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 23 (Ticker) --
Rookie Emeka Okafor
not going to let the Charlotte Bobcats blow another chance at
Okafor scored 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter as the
Bobcats snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 91-89 victory
over the Detroit Pistons and became the first expansion team
since 1971 to defeat the defending NBA champions.
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"We moved the ball, we really defended, we executed," Charlotte
coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "This was something good that we
needed to happen for this basketball team."
After a back-and-forth first quarter, Detroit took a 28-25 lead
on a jumper by Smush Parker
with just over nine minutes
remaining in the half. Charlotte took over after that, closing
the quarter with a 26-7 run.
Okafor, who scored six points in the final 90 seconds of the
first half, made the lead stand by scoring 10 of the Bobcats'
first 14 points in the third period, which ended with Charlotte
holding a 73-54 lead.
The Bobcats opened a 13-point lead at Detroit on Sunday, but
could not hold on as the Pistons pulled out a 117-116
"It felt good," said Okafor, who missed a potential game-winning
jumper Sunday. "Everybody was really focused. We came
determined to get this one. When we have taken big leads, we
have lost it like that so many times. We came back strong and
pulled out a victory."
"It was a great win for us," Charlotte guard Brevin Knight
"The biggest thing is to finish at the end. We've had so many
games where we've played well for one half or three quarters and
the other team has pulled it out in the end."
, who was suspended for Sunday's game because of
his role in Detroit's brawl with Indiana on Friday, scored 13
of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including a jumper with
1:24 to play that cut the deficit to 83-77.
missed two free throws that could have drawn the
Pistons closer before Okafor converted a layup that pushed the
lead back to eight with 40 seconds on the clock. Detroit never
got closer than four until a meaningless 3-pointer at the final
"That was one we needed to get through," Bickerstaff said. "You
could see it on our faces that we might have been waiting for
something bad to happen. The bottom line is that you have to
play to win."
"The first three quarters were the biggest difference," Billups
said. "They were aggressive and we weren't. This team thought
they could beat us, they thought they should have won the other
night and they came out today and validated it. They kicked out
Okafor also recorded a season-high 15 rebounds, helping the
Bobcats dominate the boards, 44-32. Sixteen of Charlotte's
rebounds came on the offensive end.
Knight recorded a season-high 19 assists for Charlotte, which
became the first expansion team to defeat the defending
champions since the Buffalo Braves and Portland Trail Blazers
beat the New York Knicks in the 1970-71 season.
"I just try to run the show," Knight said. "A lot of credit goes
to those guys for making shots when I get it to them. I enjoy
getting assists. I told these guys that's how I make my living,
getting assists. So I'll just keep trying to do it."
Detroit was playing without coach Larry Brown, who did not
travel with the team because of potential complications from hip
surgery he had earlier this month.
His replacement, Gar Heard, was ejected from the game with 7:18
left for arguing a call.
joined him in the locker room less than a minute
later, picking up his second technical foul after tossing his
headband into the stands.
"Since (suspended Indiana forward Ron) Artest is out, I know I'm
on the blacklist," Wallace said. "I've got that target on my