Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/18

Game 1: Saturday, December 18th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 22nd

Bobcats 90

(7-15, 1-10 away)

Rockets 87

(12-14, 8-7 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, December 22, 2004

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHA 16 22 28 2490
    HOU 23 21 18 2587

    Top Performers

    Cha: E. Okafor 21 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

    Hou: T. McGrady 25 Pts, 9 Reb, 6 Ast, 5 Stl

    Charlotte also sweeps season series

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Emeka Okafor felt right at home in the Toyota Center.

    No wonder the Bobcats finally won away from Charlotte.

    The expansion Bobcats won on the road for the first time, getting 21 points and 11 rebounds from Okafor in a 90-87 victory Wednesday night over the Houston Rockets.

    "It's nice to have my first road win in the city I grew up in," said the 6-foot-10 rookie star. "This one was coming and it was just a matter of time."

    Jason Kapono added 16 points for Charlotte, a loser in its first 10 road games. The victory gave Charlotte a sweep over a team many once believed would be among the NBA's elite. The Bobcats defeated the Rockets 101-100 in overtime on Saturday.

    Okafor had quite a homecoming at the expense of his favorite childhood team.

    He recorded his 14th consecutive double-double, tying Shaquille O'Neal for the second-longest streak by a rookie in NBA history. But it was his clutch defensive play that sealed the landmark victory.

    With 13.6 seconds left and Charlotte holding a 3-point lead, Okafor stepped into the lane on Tracy McGrady's drive to the basket. He forced McGrady into an awkward pass that went off Yao Ming's hands.

    Charlotte point guard Brevin Knight then threw the inbounds pass the length of the court to a wide-open Primoz Brezec, who completed the play with a two-handed slam. Disgusted by the surprising turn of events, the crowd of 13,655 booed the Rockets off the floor.

    "When you talk about character tests, this was one," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "And when you talk about gorillas, that's exactly what this win was on the road. It was a good feather (in our cap) because we beat a good team on the road."

    Whether the Rockets are a good team or not is debatable.

    Once touted as a potential contender for the NBA title with the All-Star inside-outside combo of Yao and McGrady, Houston has been a huge disappointment. The Rockets dropped two games below .500 to 12-14.

    "This is who we are at present," a somber Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Without a change in our behavior, our preparations, our intensity, our concentration, our energy, our execution ... you're not going to get change."

    A game after scoring a season-high 40 points in a win over Toronto, Yao had an ignominious triple double -- 20 points, 14 rebounds and 10 turnovers.

    "My turnovers killed the team," Yao said.

    McGrady had 25 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals. Bob Sura added 17 points and Jim Jackson 15 for the Rockets, who shot just 39 percent against the league's worst defensive team.

    Meanwhile, the Bobcats weren't even shaken by the loss of starting forward Gerald Wallace, who left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right wrist.

    Wallace was hurt during a collision late in the quarter when he tried to stop a driving layup by Rockets guard Tyronn Lue. Wallace went for a block of Lue's shot and the guard crashed into him, sending both players tumbling to the floor.

    Wallace writhed around on the ground in pain before being helped off the floor. He finished with two points in 24 minutes.

    Okafor helped pick up the slack, hitting a couple of key shots down the stretch and swatting away Sura's point-blank layup with 24.9 seconds left to seal the victory.

    He looked remarkably poised for someone playing his first NBA game in his hometown. Expecting a few pregame jitters, Okafor made a point to stick to his usual pregame routine in an effort to block out the distractions.

    "I don't care how focused you are," Bickerstaff said. "You've got to be awfully strong to ignore all that."

    But Okafor then went about playing as if this were any other game. About the only thing that made it different from the average road game was the smattering of applause throughout the crowd when he shot free throws.

    "I wasn't going to let my emotions get the better of me," Okafor said. "We won, and that's the reason to be excited. I'm happy ... I'll walk away with it."

    Game notes

    Okafor set aside about 50 tickets for family and friends at Toyota Center. About the only people missing from his contingent were his parents, Pius and Celestina, who were visiting relatives in Nigeria. "I tried to accommodate everyone," Okafor said. "Pretty much, if you asked, I got you tickets." ... Among those in the crowd were the parents of R&B star Beyonce, Mathew and Tina Knowles. They took in the game from courtside seats. ... The Bobcats are the first expansion team to sweep a season series from the Rockets.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 90 87
    FGM-FGA 35-80 (.438) 31-80 (.388)
    3PM-3PA 5-10 (.500) 7-22 (.318)
    FTM-FTA 15-23 (.652) 18-27 (.667)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-36 15-48
    Assists 24 17
    Turnovers 13 20
    Steals 8 8
    Blocks 6 3
    Fast Break Points 10 12
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 25 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 11 9

    Top Performers

    Emeka Okafor Okafor
    Points: 21
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2
    Tracy McGrady McGrady
    Points: 25
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 5
    Blk: 0