Okafor’s double-double quiets Thunder

Published 1:55 pm Thursday, December 4, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE - For the second straight game Bobcats’ center Emeka Okafor pieced together a double-double as his 25-point, 13-rebound effort helped Charlotte muffle the Thunder 103-97 Wednesday night.
The win over Oklahoma City marked the first time all season that Charlotte (7-11) was able to pull off back-to-back victories.
After scoring only six points and grabbing three boards in the first half, Okafor dominated down the stretch tallying 19 second-half points.
The Bobcats’ big man scored eight of those in the final seven minutes and went 3-4 from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds of the game to quiet the rallying Thunder (2-17).
Okafor’s shooting touch was soft for four quarters as he finished the game hitting on 8-11 shots from the floor and went 9-12 from the charity stripe.
Okafor wasn’t the only one hitting shots, teammates Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson each ran the floor well and provided big buckets throughout the course of the game.
Wallace posted 21 points and dished out four assists, while Richardson poured in 18 points and grabbed four boards.
Richardson’s first four points of the night put the sharp-shooting swingman over 10,000 for his career.
Point guard Raymond Felton did an excellent job running the offense as he handed out 12 assists while scoring eight points.
With all the big names having big nights, it was easy to overlook the play of power forward Sean May who collected a double-double of his own with 11 points and 10 boards.
Richardson said he liked seeing everyone contributed.
Brown was said he was pleased with the way Felton and the Bobcats controlled the tempo of the game.
The Bobcats never held a lead bigger than nine points, but they held the advantage over Oklahoma City for most of the game.
Charlotte controlled the paint and was able to accumulate 22 second-chance points compared to the Thunders’ six and out-boarded Oklahoma City 35-28.
Oklahoma City countered the Bobcats inside game with some sharp shooting. Last season’s rookie of the year Kevin Durant scored a team-high 24 points, while forward Jeff Green added 18.
Durant put a scare into the Bobcats’ crowd when he drilled a three-pointer from the right baseline to cut Charlotte’s lead to 102-97 with 24 seconds left in the game.
Durant and the rest of the Thunder scorched the nets Wednesday as it shot a collective 54 percent from the floor and buried 63 percent of its threes.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma City, the only place it couldn’t hit shots from was from the foul line, where it went 18-28.
The Bobcats will look to extend their win streak to three on Friday when they play on the road against the Bucks.