CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 11 rebounds on Wednesday night to lead Charlotte to a 105-84 victory over the Atlanta Hawks and guarantee the expansion Bobcats of not finishing with the worst record in the NBA.
The win was the 17th of the season for the Bobcats and moved them five games ahead of Atlanta (12-66) with just four games to play.
The loss assured the Hawks of having the most chances for the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery. Atlanta will have 250 of 1,000 chances to get the top selection when the league draws to set the order of the June 28 draft.
The next team will have 199 chances, but the Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets — Charlotte’s former team—are still jockeying for that position.
Charlotte tried to prove it is a better team than Atlanta—the Bobcats beat the Hawks in three of their four meetings this season, including Monday night’s 110-105 victory in overtime—from the opening tip.
The Bobcats scored on their first 10 possessions and continued to roll to their largest margin of victory of the season.
Charlotte went up 65-38 late in the second quarter for their largest lead of the season, then kept building on it. The Bobcats went up by 30 points three times in the third quarter.
Atlanta was able to cut it to 23 points in the fourth quarter, but never got any closer.
Atlanta coach Mike Woodson insisted before the game that the Hawks weren’t intentionally trying to lose for a shot at the No. 1 pick. “We are not throwing games by any means,” he said. … Charlotte center Primoz Brezec is out at least seven days with a foot injury, but badly wants to return before the season finale next Wednesday. … Carroll hosted a local Charlotte boy whose father recently died. The boy got courtside seats, plenty of team gear and a post-game meeting with Carroll. Carroll was signed out of the NBDL midway through the season.