Bobcats Beat Rockets In Double OT
Charlotte 111, Houston 106 (2OT)
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 10 (Ticker) -- The Charlotte Bobcats were glad to see the injury-riddled Houston Rockets come to town.
Gerald Wallace had 26 points and 14 rebounds and Brevin Knight added 15 points and a season-best 18 assists as the Bobcats snapped their four-game slide with a 111-106 double-overtime triumph over the Rockets.
"They only had nine players," said Wallace, who made 9-of-15 shots. "It was a great game. It was two teams that have had injuries to key players, and two teams that the only way they could win was to come out and do the little things, fight and try to play aggressive defense. I think both teams played good, as you could tell by the game going into double overtime."
Charlotte trailed, 104-101, in the second overtime before Emeka Okafor tied it with a three-point play with 2:02 remaining, sparking 7-2 spurt to close the game. The 2005 Rookie of the Year, Okafor had missed the last eight games with a sprained ankle and aggravated the injury Tuesday.
"He (Okafor) played a great ballgame in the second half and it showed," Wallace said. "At one point, he was the reason why we were still in the ballgame. He was making big shots and doing big things. It's just unfortunate for him to go down like that again."
Bernard Robinson split a pair of free throws to give the Bobcats a 105-104 lead with 1:09 remaining. Houston's Ryan Bowen missed a layup and rookie Raymond Felton drove for a hoop with 20 seconds to go.
"The lane just opened up," said Felton, who contributed 13 points. "I made a cut and it all fell through. We fought so hard for this game. We were both fighting injuries. We had to get this one. There was no way we were going to fight this hard and not win this game."
Rookie Luther Head, whose 3-pointer at the buzzer forced the second overtime, missed a 3-pointer. Wallace grabbed the rebound and was fouled, sealing the win with two free throws.
Primoz Brezec nailed a jumper and Okafor split a pair of free throws as the Bobcats built a 99-96 lead with six seconds left in the first overtime. Head answered with his tying shot.
"The play didn't go perfectly, but it ended up in my hand anyway," said Head, who scored 17 points. "I just took a step back and made the shot. We've got to be confident going into the overtime. I just felt like we had to go out there and play harder to win."
David Wesley's 3-pointer gave the Rockets an 85-84 advantage with two minutes left in regulation. The Bobcats responded by scoring on their next two possessions as Wallace made a layup and Knight drained a jumper.
Houston's Rafer Alston and Okafor traded a pair of free throws before Rockets rookie John Lucas III tied the game on a 3-pointer from the right corner with 23 seconds to go. Wallace had chance to win it in regulation but missed a runner as time expired.
"When we looked down during the national anthem and saw nine guys, we anticipated trouble," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "That's what I was afraid of all day. They played like we've played when we've been down and just have eight or nine. They made some unbelievable shots with a hand in their face. There were a couple of possessions that we just couldn't come up with the ball."
Okafor had 21 points, eight rebounds and two blocks off the bench and Brezec scored 20 points for Charlotte, which shot 44 percent (40-of-91) from the field.
"I was able to hit some early jumpers and then in overtime they left me wide open," Brezec said. "Fortunately I was able to knock them down."
The Bobcats lead the NBA in steals (10.6) and points off turnovers (20.4) and are the only team with two players in the top five in steals, with Knight at 2.48 and Wallace at 2.12. On Tuesday, the Bobcats collected 11 steals, with Wallace taking three.
Juwan Howard had season highs of 28 points and 12 rebounds and Wesley scored a season-high 26 points for the Rockets, who shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from 3-point range but fell to 0-3 all-time against Charlotte.
"These guys are professional guys and they're all professional basketball players so we should expect to play well and play hard," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said.