CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 13 (Ticker) --
Rookie Emeka Okafor
the Charlotte Bobcats needed only one half to prove they are not
the worst team in the NBA.
Okafor led seven players in double figures with 17 points as the
expansion Bobcats posted a 105-84 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks.
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"I want to thank the guys for allowing us to have one of those,"
Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff
said. "Those young kids
play hard. It will pay off next year and down the road because
of the opportunities they have been given to play."
With the setback, the 16th in their last 17 games and sixth
straight on the road, the Hawks clinched the worst record in the
"I wouldn't say it's rock-bottom," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson
said. "But I can't explain. We just played this team two
nights ago. Their effort and energy level was so much better
than ours in the first half."
The Bobcats were pleased to not have the worst record in their
"That was one of our goals this year," said forward Melvin Ely
who had 16 points and nine rebounds. "People were saying that
we wouldn't win nine games. All that ended when we beat Houston
twice. The more people talked, the harder we played. When we
come to play, we're just as good as anybody."
"It feels good," Charlotte guard Keith Bogans
said. "I was on
the worst team in the NBA last year (Orlando) and I didn't want
to do it two years in a row. Just because we're not going to
make the playoffs doesn't mean we're not going to play up until
the last game."
Charlotte (17-61) scored on its first 10 possessions and shot 58
percent (22-of-38) from the field in the first half, taking a
65-40 lead - the largest halftime cushion in team history.
"We just compounded that problem in the first half with bad
shots and not defending anybody at all," Woodson said. "It
wasn't like we didn't know what they were doing. We just saw
them two nights ago."
"The Bobcats play hard," Atlanta rookie Josh Smith
"Actually they play hard every night. They blew us out from the
beginning, and it's hard to come back when a team jumps on you
Okafor, Charlotte's leading scorer and rebounder, stepped up in
the absence of second-leading scorer Primoz Brezec
, who sat out
with a sprained right ankle.
The 6-10 Okafor, one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the
Year, added 11 rebounds in notching his 10th consecutive
double-double and his this season. He leads all rookies with
15.4 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game.
"I do care if I win (Rookie of the Year)," Okafor said. "I want
it. Every rookie wants it, but there's only so much I can do. I
just go out there and play. I'm competitive, so of course if I
don't get it I'm going to be disappointed. But life will go
's layup with 5:31 remaining in the third quarter
ballooned the lead to 79-49, the expansion team's first 30-point
"I was enjoying it," Okafor said. "It was definitely nice to be
on this side of a 30-point lead."
The 21-point margin was Charlotte's largest, surpassing a 102-84
triumph over Minnesota on January 5.
Smith had 20 points and 14 rebounds and fellow rookie Josh Childress
added 12 points for the Hawks (12-66), who need one
win in their final four games to avoid becoming the fifth club
in NBA history with 70 losses.
"We basically let them set the tone from the beginning,"
Childress said. "They made shots and we didn't. They made free
throws and we didn't. It's a tough loss."
"It's definitely a positive," Charlotte's Brevin Knight
"When you're an expansion team, your goals are maybe a little
bit smaller than other teams. Our goals are to be competitive
every game, win as many games as possible and not have the worst
record in the league. We've accomplished that."