NBA: Bobcats 126, Knicks 110

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 12, 2007

Associated Press

NEW YORK — In their best half of basketball this season, there was really only one thing the Charlotte Bobcats did wrong.

Matt Carroll couldn’t get out of the way.

Emeka Okafor had 20 points and a career-high 10 blocked shots, Derek Anderson scored 29 points, and the Bobcats snapped the New York Knicks’ three-game winning streak with a 126-110 victory Friday night.

Carroll added 23 points, but also grabbed the rebound on the final missed shot of the game. The Bobcats desperately wanted Okafor to get it so he could have the first triple-double of his career.

“I had no idea,” Carroll said. “I feel bad now. If I would have known, I definitely would have let him have that one. He’s more of a rebounder than me anyway, so I don’t get in trouble if I don’t rebound that much.”

There was nothing else to complain about for Charlotte, which shot 66 percent during a season-best 74-point second half. The Bobcats finished at 59.3 percent for the game, easily their best effort of the season.

Charlotte scored 36 points in the third quarter and 38 in the fourth, both season highs for those periods.

“I think the way we executed our offense in the second half and hit shots in the second half was probably the best we played probably this year,” Carroll said.

Carroll continued his recent strong play, increasing his average to 21.7 points over the last six games. Raymond Felton added 16 points and 14 assists, and Okafor took care of the rest with the highest blocked shot total in the NBA this season that matched the highest at the current Madison Square Garden.

“You can’t block shots if they don’t challenge you, and they kept challenging me,” Okafor said. “And I kept having success with it.”

Stephon Marbury scored 28 points and Eddy Curry added 27 for the Knicks, who were seeking their sixth straight home victory and second over Charlotte this season. They beat the Bobcats 111-109 on Dec. 20 when David Lee tipped in a long pass from Jamal Crawford just before the buzzer to end the second overtime.

“We ran into a hot team,” Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. “They shot well, they made shots. They did the correct things, they made plays. I don’t have any excuses other than the other team that we played tonight, they were hot. They did everything right.”

The Bobcats were ahead by one at halftime, but outscored the Knicks 20-9 in the first 5 minutes of the third quarter to build a 12-point lead. Leading by three, the Bobcats got two 3-pointers from Carroll and another from Anderson in an 11-2 spurt that gave them a

72-60 advantage with 7:08 left in the third quarter.