Charlotte (9-32) at Utah (15-30)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Tue Feb 1, 2005
  • TV: CSET
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Charlotte Bobcats will be without star rookie Emeka Okafor when they conclude their season series with the struggling Utah Jazz.

Okafor sprained his left ankle while battling for a pass in the paint with 2:34 remaining in the Bobcats’ 101-90 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

The second overall pick in the NBA draft has averaged a team-high 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds in 41 games. He will miss a game for the first time.

Brevin Knight came off the bench Sunday for the first time in 30 games with the Bobcats and had eight points and five assists in 23 minutes, after missing the previous five games because of a sprained left ankle.

Kareem Rush, whose 21 points against the Toronto Raptors on Friday helped the Bobcats end a season-worst 10-game losing streak, scored 13 against the Lakers. It was his first game against his former team since being traded to Charlotte on Dec. 6.

“I am more comfortable now and I’m trying to fit in,” Rush said. “We are out here playing hard and trying to compete every night and get some victories.”

Charlotte is 1-19 on the road and has lost 17 of 19 overall.

After its first meeting with Charlotte, Utah seemed set for a strong season. The Jazz, though, now find themselves among the worst teams in the NBA.

Utah overcame a 22-point deficit to beat Charlotte 107-105 on Nov. 16, giving the Jazz a 6-1 record. The Jazz went on to lose 11 of their next 13, and now rank among the NBA’s worst teams.

The Jazz have lost two straight and four of five despite the return of Andrei Kirilenko, who was out with a right knee injury. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 9.8 points since his return.

Kirilenko had just seven points on 2 of 7 shooting in a 99-92 loss to the New Jersey Nets on Saturday. Raja Bell was the only Jazz player in double figures with 20 points.

“It’s not about making shots or missing shots or who’s an All-Star and who’s not an All-Star,” Bell said. “It’s just about fighting and we don’t fight. It’s frustrating because we have enough talent to do it and we just don’t use it.”

STANDINGS (through Jan. 30): Bobcats - 4th place, 21 1/2 GB, Southeast Division. Jazz - 5th place, 16 1/2 GB, Northwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Bobcats - F Gerald Wallace, F Melvin Ely, C Brezec, G Rush, G Jason Hart. Jazz - F Kirilenko, F Carlos Boozer, C Curtis Borchardt, G Raul Lopez, G Gordan Giricek.

TEAM LEADERS: Bobcats - Okafor, 14.9 ppg and 11.1 rpg; Brevin Knight, 9.2 apg. Jazz - Boozer, 18.6 ppg and 9.3 rpg; McLeod, 5 apg.


LAST MEETING: Nov. 16; Jazz, 107-105. At Charlotte, N.C., Boozer had 34 points as the Jazz overcame a 22-point deficit.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bobcats - 1-19 on the road; Jazz - 9-12 at home.

INJURIES: Bobcats - F-C Jahidi White (shoulder); F Theron Smith (knee); G-F Tamar Slay (foot); F Okafor (ankle). Jazz - G Keith McLeod (hamstring); G Kirk Snyder (knee).

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