Okafor leads Bobcats past WizardsDec 24, 2008 - 5:10 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Emeka Okafor scored 29 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to an 80-72 win over the cold-shooting Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.
Washington, owners of the worst record in the Eastern Conference (4-22), shot a season low 32.2 percent from the floor while dropping their seventh straight game. The Bobcats have won three of its last four contests.
"That was like going to a dentist," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "Thank God for Emeka. His improvement is beyond belief for me."
Okafor has emerged as a strong offensive presence during the Bobcats recent surge. The center is averaging 19.0 points and 12.8 rebounds during that stretch.
"I got in a good rhythm early and attacked the basket," Okafor said.
Charlotte blew the game open late in the fourth on a 8-0 run capped by an ally-oop dunk by Gerald Wallace to make the score 78-69. Okafor scored 10 of his 29 in the final period which saw a total of four lead changes and two ties.
"We just had to settle down and find the open guys," Wallace said. "We were just trying to do too much out there."
D.J. Augustin gave Charlotte the lead for good with a pair of free throws for a 61-60 advantage. Okafor scored another basket, but missed the three-point opportunity for a three-point cushion.
Caron Butler got the Wizards to 70-69, but they were never able to make the final push for the lead.
Charlotte built a seven-point lead in the third quarter, 55-48, after a basket from Okafor. Butler and DeShawn Stevenson closed out the third with five quick points to make it a two-point game entering the fourth.
In addition to Okafor's performance, Charlotte got 16 points and eight rebounds from Wallace.
"This was just a struggle game tonight," Washington coach Ed Tapscott said. "We were out of sync. It just wasn't smooth."
The Wizards were led by Butler's 31 points. The 72 points by Washington was a season low for the Wizards as well as an opponent low for the Bobcats defense.
"The loss was tough tonight," Butler said. "Every night we try to leave it all on the floor. We just have to continue to work hard each game."
CHARLOTTE 80 FINAL
Dec 23 9:19 PM
CHARLOTTE 55 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 23 8:47 PM
CHARLOTTE 36 HALFTIME
Dec 23 8:04 PM
CHARLOTTE 26 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 23 7:36 PM
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