After watching an impressive performance by a former teammate and fellow first-year player, Emeka Okafor looks to strengthen his case for rookie of the year honors as the Charlotte Bobcats host the Toronto Raptors.
Okafor has been the leading candidate for rookie of the year most of the season, but was upstaged by former University of Connecticut teammate Ben Gordon in a 102-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. Gordon scored 22 of his career-high 35 points in the fourth quarter, including a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 42.8 seconds left.
“When Ben Gordon gets it on, he just turns it on. I sensed it in the third when he started to get it going. I was with him for three years so I saw everything,” said Okafor, who along with Gordon led UConn to the national championship last year.
Okafor shot just 6-of-16 against Chicago, but finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his 38th double-double of the season.
“You don’t win it in one game,” Okafor said about the rookie of the year award. “This was just one game and I’ll leave it at that.”
Charlotte point guard Brevin Knight has recorded at least 15 assists in four of his last five games. He had 15 on Wednesday before being ejected with 5:22 left following a shoving match with Chicago forward Tyson Chandler.
Toronto fell to 1-3 on its five-game road trip with a 108-96 loss to Orlando on Wednesday night. Rafer Alston scored 17 points and Chris Bosh added 16 and 11 rebounds, but the Raptors yielded at least 100 points for the fourth consecutive game.
Alston and Bosh combined for 10 of Toronto’s 23 turnovers, which led to 34 points for the Magic.
“We are not playing to win,” said forward Jalen Rose, the only starter not to have a turnover. “We don’t play together. We are just out there playing because it’s on the schedule. We need to develop maturity and responsibility, a know-how, a willingness to play to win instead of playing just to play.”
Rose is shooting 29 percent (17-for-58) in his last four games.