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Richardson, Okafor lift Bobcats past Timberwolves

Dec 2, 2008 - 6:15 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Jason Richardson scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to a 100-90 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Richardson, who missed seven games after having surgery on his right knee, has averaged 22.7 points in the three games since his return, including two Bobcat victories.

Charlotte was buoyed as well by a strong defensive presence.

"We did a lot of good things tonight," Richardson said. "Guys were sharing the ball and we played good defense on the other end that really fueled us tonight."

The Bobcats limited the Timberwolves to 41 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers. Charlotte also held Al Jefferson to just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Charlotte opened up the final period with the first three points of the quarter and D.J. Augustin capped a 9-4 run to push Charlotte's lead back to double figures, 75-65.

The Bobcats allowed Minnesota to creep back in the game, but nine fourth-quarter points from Emeka Okafor allowed them to hold on for the win.

"The way (Okafor) defended and played on offense was big for us," Richardson said. He demanded the ball and posted up strong and went up with some strong moves."

Okafor finished the game with a season-high 24 points and added 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.

"I came out a little more aggressive," Okafor said. "My teammates were looking for me tonight and that really helped."

Charlotte dominated in the paint against Minnesota outscoring the Timberwolves 48-26.

"We need a post presence," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "Every time we penetrated, he made himself available and that's what we've been urging him to do. If a guy's involved offensively just a little bit it picks up all the areas of his game."

Richardson's highlight reel dunk in the lane put the Bobcats up 84-70 and elicited a roar from an announced crowd of 9,285. Minnesota quickly pulled back to single digits, but was never able to get closer than nine points.

"Our effort has been good," Richardson said. "We're defending and putting in the effort to do the right things. We're getting better at the system and finally adjusting and learning what he wants from us and buying in as a team."

The Bobcats took a 58-46 lead on a three-point play from Gerald Wallace at the 7:34 mark of the third quarter. Minnesota chipped away at Charlotte's lead and trailed by just five at the close of the third quarter.

The Bobcats took the lead for good, 28-26, early in the second quarter on a basket from Richardson and extended the lead on a three by Wallace. Richardson finished the first half with 19 points and Charlotte took a 43-36 lead to the break.

Mike Miller got off to a hot start, scoring 10 Minnesota's first 17 points for a 17-12 lead. Charlotte then stormed in front with a 9-0 run behind four points from Richardson.

"The Bobcats were tough tonight," Minnesota rookie forward Kevin Love said. "They kept going to Emeka (Okafor) inside and they were able to get it done."

Minnesota was led by Randy Foye's 23 points while Miller chipped in 19. The Timberwolves connected on 11-of-25 from behind the arc including Miller who was 5-of-8. The Timberwolves got just eight points from its two interior starters and were dominated in the paint 48-26.

Charlotte got double-doubles from Okafor and Raymond Felton who added 14 points and 14 assists for their second win in three games.

"This was one we had to get," Okafor said. "We played well against Boston and didn't quite get the win. Today we knew that we had to come out and stick to our principles and we executed for the win."

In addition to the loss on the court, Minnesota learned Monday it would be without guard Corey Brewer for the remainder of the season. Brewer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Denver Saturday night.

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