Okur Shines for Jazz in OT Win at Charlotte
Utah 95, Charlotte 91 (OT)
CHARLOTTE, N. C., Nov. 7 (Ticker) -- Mehmet Okur is proving to be worth his $50 million contract.
Okur scored seven of his career-high 31 points in overtime to lead the Utah Jazz to a 95-91 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Signed to a six-year, $50 million contract in July 2004, Okur averaged just 12.9 points last season for the Jazz. But he averaged 21 points and 11.3 rebounds in Utah's first three games this season and responded with the best game of his career on Monday.
The 6-11 native of Turkey made 11-of-17 shots from the field, 7-of-7 from the line and grabbed seven rebounds.
"He came into camp in great shape this season and hasn't missed a practice or a drill," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I think he learned something from a year ago when he didn't come to camp in shape and struggled."
Okur was especially dominant in overtime, scoring Utah's first seven points. He connected on a 3-pointer with 4:05 left to give Utah an 88-87 advantage. After a basket by Keith Bogans gave the lead back to Charlotte, Okur faked Emeka Okafor and hit a 10-foot jumper from the right side with 1:50 remaining.
Following a miss by Okafor, Okur then hit a short jumper over rookie Sean May from the left side of the lane to give Utah a 92-89 lead with 55 seconds remaining.
"I felt good out there tonight," Okur said, "What can I say, our point guards did a great job creating open shots for us. We got a lot of wide open shots."
"Mehmet did a great job in overtime," said Utah's Andrei Kirilenko, who finished with 20 points and seven blocked shots. "He was fantastic and made every shot. We just let him do what he wanted."
Milt Palacio made 1-of-2 free throws with 17 seconds left and rookie Deron Williams dunked with 6.4 seconds remaining to increase the lead to 95-89.
Bidding to win three games in a row for the first time in franchise history, the Bobcats rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime.
Charlotte took its first lead of the game, 82-81, when Brevin Knight hit a 15-foot jumper with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter. Knight's basket capped a 13-2 run.
Knight converted a pair of free throws with 1:03 remaining in the fourth to increase the advantage to 85-83.
But Matt Harpring scored inside to tie the game at 85-85 with 49 seconds left in regulation.
Knight had a chance to win the game in regulation, but missed an off-balance 15-footer from the right side at the buzzer.
"It's frustrating because you want to win every game," said Knight, who made just 4-of-14 shots and finished with 11 points.
It marked the third overtime contest in four games for the Bobcats, who rallied from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Boston on Saturday.
The only other teams to open the season with three overtime contests in their first four games were the 1991 Los Angeles Lakers and the 1961 Philadelphia Warriors.
Utah won despite committing 22 turnovers and shooting 57.5 percent (23-of-40) from the free throw line.
"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot every time and turning the ball over and doing things that were least expected," Sloan said. "You have to feel very lucky to come away with a win."
However, they Jazz outrebounded the Bobcats 51-44, including 17 on the offensive end.
"They kicked out butts where the men play and that was down inside on the boards," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "They wanted the basketball more than we wanted the basketball."
Bobcats leading scorer Gerald Wallace did not play in the second half after getting hit on the head while driving to the basket in the second quarter.