Against an undermanned Houston Rockets team, it should have been
an easy win.
Instead, the Bobcats had to claw their way through two overtimes
-- losing Okafor and Knight to more injuries along the way -- before
finally pulling out a 111-106 win over Houston on Tuesday night.
"Our guys just kept fighting, after one overtime, two
overtimes," coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "They just kept
fighting and found a way."
Raymond Felton made a running jumper with 20 seconds to play in
the second overtime, then hit a pair of free throws to seal the
But Okafor, who had been sidelined with a sprained ankle,
re-injured himself late in the second overtime when he stepped on
someone's foot. He had to be helped from the court, his right shoe
off, and was on crutches after the game.
He won't travel to Wednesday night's game in Toronto, instead
staying behind for an MRI.
"I'm kind of worried," said Okafor, who had 21 points before
he was hurt. "I'm not in too much pain, but I also can't really
Knight, the Bobcats' point guard, took himself out of the game
late in the second overtime with a sore back. He needed treatment
several times during the game, and was walking gingerly after.
He will go to Toronto, but said his status is uncertain.
"I'll push through as long as possible, get treatment and be
there for my team," said Knight, who had 15 points and 18 assists.
The Rockets were also thin, dressing only nine players. Yao Ming
and Tracy McGrady were back in Houston with injuries, and Juwan
Howard and Rafer Alston both fouled out in second overtime.
"We have an All-Star team on our bench, but the more we dwell
on that, we lose focus on what the healthy guys have to do,"
Houston's David Wesley said.
The game was tied at 104 with 2:03 to go until the Bobcats
finally took control. Bernard Robinson made one of two free throws
to give them the lead for good with 1:09 to play.
Both teams had a series of misses until Felton, in because
Knight was out, drove through the Houston defense to score. Luther
Head missed a 3 at the other end, Gerald Wallace was fouled after
grabbing the rebound, and made both his free throws to make it
Head scored at the other end with 7 seconds left, then the
Rockets quickly fouled Felton. He went to the line and made both
his shots to lock up the win.
Wallace led Charlotte with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Primoz
Brezec scored 20.
Howard led Houston with 28 points. Wesley, the longtime former
Charlotte Hornet, scored a season-high 26 and Alston had 20 points
and 10 assists.
The Rockets dropped to 0-9 this season with McGrady doesn't
"These (other) guys are professional guys and they're all
professional basketball players so we should expect to play well
and play hard," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Houston was able to continue the game twice with dramatic
John Lucas made a 3-pointer with 28 seconds to play in
regulation to tie the game and ensure an extra period. Then, after
Okafor made just one of two free throws to prevent Charlotte from
putting the game away with 6 seconds to play in overtime, Head
connected on a 3 with just 0.1 seconds left on the clock to send it
into another overtime.
The Bobcats have played in an NBA-high five overtime games
this season. ... Bickerstaff tried to squash rumors that teams are
trying to trade for Knight. "I haven't had any conversations with
anyone, so expending vocal energy on that is of no significance,"
he said, adding that the second-year team is still too thin to deal
away its starting point guard. ... The Rockets are counting on
guard Head to step up while so many of his teammates are out with
injuries. "This may be his best chance at carving out a career for
himself in the NBA," Van Gundy said.