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Okafor, Bobcats storm past Pacers in fourth quarter

Nov 10, 2007 - 4:38 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Emeka Okafor and the Charlotte Bobcats bounced back in a big way.

Okafor collected 25 points and a season-high 23 rebounds and Gerald Wallace added 28 points as the Bobcats used a monster fourth quarter en route to a 96-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Raymond Felton scored 17 points for Charlotte, which outscored the Pacers, 31-14, in the final period to secure the victory.

"This was a great confidence builder for us," Okafor said. "We needed this one for a number of reasons. We needed an uplifting game to prove to ourselves that we can do it."

Okafor, who did not score and grabbed just seven rebounds in Tuesday's 115-83 loss to the Phoenix Suns, was a force in the paint - grabbing seven offensive rebounds and notching a double-double by halftime.

"Emeka really is our heart and soul," Charlotte coach Sam Vincent said. "When he's got a thunderous heartbeat like he did tonight, our team plays with thunder. He was big for us tonight, and if he continues that kind of play, then we're going to have some good nights."

But the Bobcats waited until the final period to open up their lead.

Wallace converted a steal into a dunk and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner as the Bobcats scored the first 13 points of the fourth to notch just their second lead of the game at 76-73.

"Our defense is the spark of our offense," Wallace said. "And that showed in the fourth quarter. Our intensity picked up and we were able to force Indiana out of what they wanted to do and attacked them."

Jamaal Tinsley scored the first points of the fourth for the Pacers at the 7:07 mark and cut their deficit to 78-75. But Charlotte continued the offensive onslaught with a dunk by Okafor and Matt Carroll's second 3-pointer of the quarter.

Wallace's jumper from the left wing gave the Bobcats an 87-76 advantage and capped the decisive 22-3 run by Charlotte. However, it was not easy for the Bobcats at the outset.

Indiana built an early 18-10 lead on the strong inside play by Jermaine O'Neal and Danny Granger. But the Bobcats then scored eight straight points, including six from Okafor, to tie the game.

Troy Murphy netted the first six points of the second quarter to help the Pacers build a six-point lead. Charlotte took its only lead of the first half, 34-33, on a basket by Wallace, which capped a 7-0 run with Wallace and Felton providing all the scoring in the spurt.

However, Indiana was relentless as Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and Murphy combined for nine points during an impressive stretch for the Pacers, who built their largest lead at 63-53 midway through the third quarter. But they could not sustain it in the final 12 minutes.

"They made some big plays and got a lot of offensive rebounds and we weren't able to do those things," Murphy said. "It's tough playing hard on defense and then give up all those offensive rebounds. It's demoralizing."

O'Neal had 18 points and eight rebounds and Granger added 15 points for the Pacers, who have lost two in a row since a surprising 3-0 start to the season.

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