CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Ticker) --
Rookie Emeka Okafor
the Charlotte Bobcats were more than willing to watch the
Houston Rockets fall apart after the third quarter.
Okafor collected 23 points and 17 rebounds for his 12th straight
double-double as the Bobcats rallied from an 11-point
fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Rockets, 101-100, in
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"We turnovered and fouled our way out of the game," Houston
coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We gave up two dunks in the last
minute or so. I'm very disappointed in the way we played,
The Bobcats forced eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"We had 18 steals," Charlotte head coach Bernie Bickerstaff
said. "We were aggressive and we got 26 points off turnovers. I
thought on offensive rebounds we were good. We did all the
dirty things to win."
"They played their (tails) off," Rockets star guard Tracy McGrady said of the Bobcats. "After tonight, I have a
tremendous amount of respect for the Bobcats. They played hard
from the first quarter all the way to overtime. Emeka Okafor is
definitely a star in the making in this league."
Keith Bogans added 19 points and Gerald Wallace 15 and nine
rebounds for Charlotte, which shot just 36 percent (31-of-87)
from the floor but nevertheless posted the first winning streak
in franchise history. The Bobcats, who won their fifth straight
home game, edged New Orleans in overtime on Wednesday, 94-93.
"This was a very big win for us, and we made plays down the
stretch that we haven't been making this season," Bogans said.
"This team fights and scraps every game and tonight was no
different. When we got we didn't hang out our heads, we
continued to play and gave ourselves a chance to win the game
and that's we did."
Houston held an 83-72 lead entering the fourth quarter but did
not score for six minutes and allowed Charlotte to take an 86-85
edge on a pair of free throws by Wallace with 4:08 remaining.
Rockets All-Star center Yao Ming, who contributed 16 points and
nine rebounds, fouled out with 3:32 left and his team up, 87-86.
"We weren't aggressive in the fourth quarter," McGrady said.
"We were turning the ball over and putting those guys on the
free throw line."
The game was tied, 92-92, before McGrady nailed a jumper with
7.1 seconds left. After a timeout, Brevin Knight penetrated the
lane and found Okafor for a dunk with three seconds to play.
The Rockets' inbounds pass to McGrady was batted to the floor,
and nobody claimed possession until the clock expired.
"We're supposed to be a defensive team," McGrady said. "We
can't let a team get a dunk with seven seconds left. I just
thought mentally we broke down. We were fatigued mentally, but
that's not why we lost."
The score was 96-96 when Okafor blocked a 3-pointer by McGrady
with 1:25 remaining. Wallace was fouled on a fast break three
seconds later, and his free throws gave Charlotte the lead for
"We just scrapped and clawed our way through the entire evening
and we plays down the stretch," Okafor said. "I'm glad we won."
"For a rookie I thought (Okafor) did good," Bickerstaff said.
"If there were plays that needed to be made, he was there.
Twenty-three and 17 isn't a bad night."
The edge was 99-97 after Wallace split two free throws with 19
seconds left, but McGrady misfired on a jumper and Jamal Sampson
made it a four-point cushion with a pair from the line with 3.9
seconds to play. McGrady made a long 3-pointer at the buzzer
but it was not enough.
"I thought Jamal Sampson was big," Bickerstaff added. "He
stepped up and made the big free throws that made the difference
in the basketball game."
McGrady collected 29 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for
Houston, which was coming off a 5-1 homestand.