CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 20 (Ticker) --
The Charlotte Bobcats
ended their inaugural season in style.
Rookie Emeka Okafor
had 16 points and a season high-tying 19
rebounds as the Bobcats recorded a 97-86 victory over the
defending champion Detroit Pistons, who had their 11-game
winning streak snapped.
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"We're just happy we got the win tonight and we were able to end
on a nice note," Okafor said.
Okafor, one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year,
notched his 47th double-double of the season for Charlotte,
which won two of three games from the defending NBA champions.
The Bobcats lost a 117-116 double-overtime decision to Detroit
in November and defeated the Pistons two days later.
"It was a fun season," Okafor said. "It was definitely an
experience. I just really had fun with it."
This game was not extremely meaningful to Detroit (54-28), which
is locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference
playoffs, but the Pistons nonetheless had to be impressed with
"They are a scrappy team," Detroit center Ben Wallace
"They were able to end the season on a good note with a win.
That's good for them."
"They played hard tonight," Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince
said. "Everybody in the league knows that no matter what the
score is, Charlotte plays hard regardless."
The Pistons, who played without injured starters Rasheed Wallace
and Richard Hamilton
, begin their quest for back-to-back
championships this weekend when they host Philadelphia in the
opener of a best-of-seven series. Detroit is expected to have
its team at full health for the postseason.
"We had a good season considering everything that went on,"
Detroit's Chauncey Billups
said. "I'm happy with how everything
ended up, but it's time now. Everything means a lot now and I'm
just happy to be here healthy."
Charlotte (18-64) concluded its inaugural season with the
second-worst record, five games better than Atlanta. The
Bobcats also had impressive victories over playoff-bound
Denver, Sacramento, Minnesota and Houston (twice).
"It was a good win," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff
"I'm happy for those young men in that room. Again, they seized
an opportunity that was given to them by an expansion team.
All they did was raise their level, their professionalism on and
off the court. The win, the fans, getting that lottery pick and
(darn it) we deserve something good to happen to us."
Charlotte will now have two lottery picks in the draft thanks to
Cleveland missing out on the playoffs.
"Two draft picks means a lot," Charlotte's Gerald Wallace
"It will really help us out."
scored 17 points and Brevin Knight
added 14 and 13
assists for the Bobcats, who shot 57 percent in the first half
in taking a 57-49 lead.
"This was a great opportunity for me," Bogans said. "I think I
took advantage of it the best I could. I played with a group of
great guys and with great coaches."
Prince scored 13 points and Ben Wallace
added 12, 10 rebounds
and three blocks for the Pistons, who shot just 43 percent
"We definitely finished the way we wanted to," Prince said. "We
really wanted to get our bench guys some playing time because
we're definitely going to need them in the playoffs. We're
definitely focused and prepared because we know whoever we play,
they're going to be ready for us."