Still in search of their first road win, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats are no pushover at home.
Coming off an emotional victory, the Bobcats will look to boost their impressive record at Charlotte Coliseum when they take on the Houston Rockets.
In going 0-10 on the road the Bobcats have looked every bit like a first-year organization, squandering late leads and getting blown out early on hostile ground. However, Charlotte has quickly established a homecourt advantage, winning four straight to improve to 5-4.
The Bobcats received a little extra motivation from the home crowd Tuesday night as they pulled out a 94-93 overtime victory over the New Orleans Hornets, the former inhabiters of the Coliseum.
The Hornets, who left Charlotte in 2002 after 14 seasons, appeared headed for a victory when Junior Harrington knocked down a 3-pointer with seven seconds left in overtime. But rookie center Emeka Okafor sent the home crowd into a frenzy by drawing a foul with five seconds left and then calmly burying both free throws to give the Bobcats their first victory in five games overall.
“Any win is important for us, but this one, you could just sense the fans wanted it,” Okafor said after finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds. “They wanted us to beat the Hornets and we sensed it meant a lot to the city. So I was a little nervous, but I just went up there and made them.”
Okafor, the NBA rookie of the month in November, has posted 11 straight double-doubles, and leads the Bobcats in scoring and rebounding.
After struggling with their cohesiveness for the first weeks of the season, Houston stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming are finally beginning to play the way many expected when the Rockets sent Steve Francis to Orlando for the league’s reigning scoring champion this past offseason.
Houston has won five of its last six, including Friday’s 100-83 rout of Golden State.
McGrady had 27 points and nine rebounds and Yao contributed 15 points and a season-high 17 rebounds as the Rockets moved within one win of .500. McGrady has led the Magic in scoring in each of the last four games, while Yao is averaging a little more than 19 points and 10 rebounds over the last six games.