Okafor's 20-20 powers Bobcats past HawksFeb 14, 2008 - 4:10 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Emeka Okafor scored 20 points and grabbed 21 rebounds as the Charlotte Bobcats snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 100-98 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
The Hawks (21-28) had a chance to move into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference but instead head into the All-Star break on a four-game slide and tied with New Jersey (23-30) and Philadelphia (23-30) for the eighth and final spot.
"We needed it," Okafor said. "We wanted to break the losing streak and come off before the All-Star break with a win. (We needed it) just for ourselves to prove that we can go out there and do it."
Charlotte's Jeff McInnis sank the game-winning basket with just under a minute to play, but it was Okafor who led the way. A 55 percent free throw shooter on the season, Okafor connected on 8-of-10 attempts in the game, including a pair in overtime which knotted the score at 98.
"The shot was there so I just went in and made my little floater," McInnis said. "I've been struggling with it all year so it was good it went down."
Joe Johnson missed a jumper in the lane on Atlanta's final possession.
"Tonight, we played not to lose instead of playing to win," Johnson said. "We stopped being aggressive in the fourth quarter. When the Bobcats went into their zone, it hurt us, and on defense we couldn't get any stops."
The Hawks went ahead, 98-96, in the overtime on back-to-back 3-pointers by Johnson and Tyronn Lue, but were unable to score on their final four possessions.
After Johnson had given Atlanta an 86-78 lead, Charlotte mounted a 12-2 run to pull ahead, 90-88, with 40 seconds left in regulation.
"We just had to tough it out," Okafor said. "We just knew that this is one that we had to get and that we should get. We just found a way to do it."
Okafor scored six points in the spurt and Jason Richardson's layup gave the Bobcats the lead on a putback of a missed jumper by Raymond Felton.
Lue quickly answered for Atlanta to knot the score again at 90-90 with 28 seconds left in the fourth.
Richardson was fouled with 6.8 seconds to play and calmly sank another pair of free throws to give Charlotte the lead again.
"We have a lot of fight left and an opportunity to make the playoffs," Richardson said. "But we have to figure out a way to win on the road."
The Bobcats appeared to have Al Horford stopped on the left wing on Atlanta's last possession of regulation, but he found Anthony Johnson open underneath. Johnson was fouled and sank his free throws with one second left to send the game into overtime tied at 92-92.
The Bobcats took an early 15-11 lead, but Atlanta went ahead with an 18-4 run in the opening quarter. Lue led the Hawks early and scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half.
The Hawks built a 14-point lead in the second quarter after Acie Law IV capped a 7-0 run for a 47-33 lead en route to a 51-39 edge at the intermission.
Johnson scored a game-high 23 points while Lue had a season-best 19 for the Hawks. Josh Childress did not play after returning to Atlanta on Wednesday for an MRI exam on his hyperextended right knee.
"Hopefully we can bounce back on this West Coast trip," Johnson said, "but we haven't had any success on the road at all this year. It's going to be tough, but hopefully everybody can get away and clear their minds and come back ready."
Felton finished with 22 points and Richardson had 20 for Charlotte, which again was without leading scorer Gerald Wallace due to a right foot sprain.
CHARLOTTE 100 FINAL IN 1ST OT
Feb 13 9:44 PM
CHARLOTTE 92 END OF 4TH QTR GOING INTO OVERTIME
Feb 13 9:31 PM
CHARLOTTE 63 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 13 8:49 PM
CHARLOTTE 39 HALFTIME
Feb 13 8:06 PM
CHARLOTTE 19 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 13 7:37 PM
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