HOUSTON, Dec. 22 (Ticker) --
Maybe the Houston Rockets should have voted
The Rockets lost to the Charlotte Bobcats for the second time in five
days, suffering a 90-87 setback to the expansion team, which won
its first road game.
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"We don't have a routine for when we win on the road," Charlotte
coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We talked about gorillas and
that's what this was becoming, a win on the road. We beat a
good basketball team on the road.
The Bobcats, who lost their first 10 road games, knocked off the
Rockets 101-100 in overtime in Charlotte on Saturday and became
the first expansion team to sweep Houston. Fourteen previous
teams had failed.
"We told our players we'd have to make sure we stayed in the
game early," Bickerstaff said. "(The Rockets) are vindictive, in
a good way. They wanted to send a message to us."
"It's not embarrassing to lose to anybody," Rockets coach Jeff
Van Gundy said. "I don't care who you play in the NBA. The
disappointing part is showing very little care for the result,
by how we played."
Charlotte rookie forward Emeka Okafor
wouldn't let it happen.
Returning to play in his hometown, Okafor put together his 14th
consecutive double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
"It's probably impossible, because of the environment, to come
back to this situation and stay focused," Bickerstaff said. "The
cameras come, the newspapers, you've got to be awful strong to
eradicate yourself from that environment."
Okafor acted as if it was no distraction at all.
"I just put it in the back of my mind," Okafor said. "It's
different, because it's the first time back. But I wasn't going
to let my emotions get the better of me. It feels good."
gave the Bobcats a lift with 16 points on 7-for-12
shooting off the bench.
Kapono put Charlotte ahead to stay with a jumper from the right
wing with 2:14 left in the third quarter for a 61-59 lead and
followed that with a 3-pointer from the right wing.
"It's good for a young team to get past that hump," Kapono said.
"We've been real patient. We've had about five opportunities
to win games (on the road). It's a quality win."
scored 14 points, including two key baskets in the
final minute. Jason Hart
came off the bench to add 14 points
and give the Bobcats a boost.
Brezec hit a 15-foot jumper from the left side with 34 seconds
to go to stretch Charlotte's lead to 87-82. The Rockets left
Brezec alone for a layup on a long pass from Brevin Knight
seven seconds left that put away the game.
"He shot it with conviction," Bickerstaff said. "The quickest
way to take a seat (on the bench) is to not take open shots."
Brezec also turned in a good defensive effort on Yao Ming
scored 20 points, half his total in Monday's win over Toronto.
Yao also grabbed 14 rebounds and committed 10 turnovers to
complete an awkward triple-double.
led Houston with 25 points but shot only 6-of-17
and missed 6-of-17 free throws.
"We keep making the same mistakes," Yao said. "We have to learn
from these games. It's just not good."
Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace
left with 2:39 remaining in the
third quarter with an injury to his right wrist. X-rays were