Okafor, Bobcats win second straight, top ThunderDec 4, 2008 - 3:49 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Emeka Okafor dominated in the paint once again and led the Charlotte Bobcats to a 103-97 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
Charlotte won back-to-back games for the first time since picking up three straight March 26-29 last season and has earned wins in four of its last six outings.
The Thunder, who were also looking for their first back-to-back victories of the year, fell to 1-5 under interim head coach Scott Brooks.
"I think we're getting a little better," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "Guys are getting better, especially the way Gerald (Wallace) is playing all around and Emeka's improvement."
Okafor had a double-double for the second straight game with 25 points and 13 rebounds after totaling 24 and 10 in Monday's win over Minnesota. The Bobcats' center dropped in 16 points in the second half and made 8-of-11 from the floor.
"Things just started flowing," Okafor said. "It was a matter of guards finding me and being able to get the ball in the paint. We're being more aware of finding openings in the system. Ray (Felton) is doing a better job of finding me in the paint and now I'm expecting it."
Okafor quickly built on Charlotte 's lead as the fourth quarter started, putting back a Sean May miss for an 80-72 lead. Joe Smith capped a quick 6-0 Thunder spurt to make the score 80-78, but Gerald Wallace and DJ Augustin answered with five points of their own as Charlotte again built a comfortable lead.
Augustin nailed a 3-pointer to put Charlotte ahead 90-83 and Oklahoma City was never able to get closer than four the rest of the way.
The Bobcats forced 18 turnovers, including back-to-back steals in the third that resulted in two more easy back-to-back baskets for Wallace and Augustin and a 73-64 lead.
May's dunk with 9:01 to play put the Bobcats ahead for good. A third-year forward out of North Carolina , May has been plagued by conditioning issues all season but logged a season-high 26 minutes with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"It's about time," May said. "I felt good. I just played and good things started to happen. I stopped worrying about things."
Oklahoma City took its largest lead of the game, 40-34, behind a 15-5 run in the second quarter. Russell Westbrook had all seven of his points during the run.
Charlotte jumped to an early lead thanks to hot shooting and took a 24-16 lead midway through the first period after a 14-4 run.
Oklahoma City was led by 24 points from Kevin Durant and 18 from Jeff Green in the losing effort, four nights after it snapped a 14-game losing streak with its first road win of the season, 111-103, over Memphis.
"We didn't make stops when we needed to," Durant said. "We played hard, we played together and we shot well. We just need to make more stops towards the end."
The Bobcats also picked up 21 from Wallace and 18 from Jason Richardson while Felton dished out 12 assists.
"We've really come together the last two games," Felton said. "Hopefully we can continue to keep it going and keep winning."
OKLAHOMA CITY 97
CHARLOTTE 103 FINAL
Dec 3 9:30 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 72
CHARLOTTE 78 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 3 8:52 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 45
CHARLOTTE 49 HALFTIME
Dec 3 8:14 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 21
CHARLOTTE 24 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 3 7:42 PM
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