Okafor, Bobcats top Lakers in overtime once againJan 27, 2007 - 9:07 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Emeka Okafor and the Charlotte Bobcats have the Los Angeles Lakers' number this season - even if it does take a little extra time.
Despite superstar Kobe Bryant reaching an impressive milestone, Okafor was the star, collecting 20 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks as the Bobcats took over in overtime en route to a 106-97 victory over the Lakers to sweep the season series.
Matt Carroll added 20 points for Charlotte, which beat Los Angeles in the extra period for the second time this season, notching a 133-124 triple-overtime victory on December 29.
"They've beaten us, what, three straight times," Bryant said. "The NBA's so funny. It was such a game of matchups. They just match up really well with us. They have the athleticism and they seem to hit timely shots and get the loose balls. They just played really well with us."
Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 18,000 points and the 52nd overall to reach the milestone.
"It's always special," Bryant said. "Things like that don't really sink in until the end of the day or the end of your career, when you kind of look back. You appreciate all the moments, all the milestones and achievements."
But Okafor's performance on both ends of the floor overshadowed the normally peerless Bryant. He was 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the line but made his biggest impact defensively and on the boards.
However, he was just happy to get the win against one of the game's best players and one of the league's better teams.
"We got out early, but they came back," Okafor said. "They got ahead. We fought our way back, made some shots in the overtime and won the game. That's the NBA. When you have a Kobe Bryant, you know he is going to make a run for your money. We played great team basketball and guys made key plays, and we came out on top."
The Bobcats outscored the Lakers, 15-6, in the extra period, including a demoralizing 3-pointer by Carroll, who banked in the shot from the left wing to make it 96-91 with three minutes left.
"They played better than we did in the overtime," Bryant said. "We tried to force our way to the basket and tried to draw some calls, but we didn't get them and they converted at the other end."
Despite poor play, Bryant thought some luck was on the Bobcats' side.
"Kobe asked me if I called bank on that shot," Carroll said. "I told him, 'Definitely, I had to get it over your long arms.'"
Charlotte should have won the game in regulation, but Bryant's heroics extended the contest. Trailing, 91-88, he nailed an off-balance 3-pointer with two seconds left to tie the game.
Carroll and forward Gerald Wallace had a miscommunication on defense, freeing Bryant for the shot.
"My mouth nearly hit the floor," Bryant said. "I almost lost the ball I was so wide open. That's the first time I have been so wide open for a big shot like that in a long, long time."
On the ensuing possession, rookie Adam Morrison fired an airball from the arc as time expired.
"When we went to overtime, we thought there was no way we should have lost when we were up three with a couple of seconds to go," Carroll said. "When he hit that shot, we said we can't lose this game. We beat them before in three overtimes so why couldn't we do it again."
Bryant scored 32 points for the Lakers, who shot just 42 percent (34-of-81) and welcomed back versatile forward Lamar Odom, who scored 12 points in 43 minutes in his first appearance since being sidelined for 23 with a knee injury.
However, with Odom back, Los Angeles did suffer an injury to another forward. Luke Walton, who rolled his ankle late in the game, will be evaluated on Saturday.
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