Friday , Dec , 31 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Okafor, Bobcats welcome Sonics to Charlotte

Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) – The Seattle SuperSonics will try to take a
winning streak into 2005, as they spend their New Year’s Eve in Charlotte for
their first-ever game against the expansion Bobcats.

The SuperSonics were dealt a home loss by the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday
evening, but rebounded with Thursday afternoon’s win in Atlanta. Ray Allen
scored 20 points to lead five Seattle players in double figures, as the Sonics
kicked off their five-game road trip with a 94-79 victory over the Hawks.

Allen netted 12 of his points in the third quarter, as the Sonics improved to
a Northwest Division-leading 21-6. Seattle has won four straight road games.

Rashard Lewis scored 17 points in the victory, while Luke Ridnour chipped in
13 points and five assists. Antonio Daniels netted 11 points off the bench and
Nick Collison recorded his first-ever double-double, setting career highs with
10 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes.

The Sonics will also visit Miami, Orlando and Washington on their tour of the

Meanwhile, the Bobcats were coming off Wednesday’s close loss to the Indiana
Pacers at the Charlotte Coliseum. Jermaine O’Neal returned from his lengthy
suspension and scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Pacers to
the 74-71 win.

Emeka Okafor posted his 17th straight double-double with 16 points and 15
boards for the Bobcats, who have dropped three straight games. Melvin Ely
added 14 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

Indiana led 55-53 after three quarters, but the Bobcats grabbed a one-point
edge at the midpoint of the fourth period. The game continued to be tight and
O’Neal’s turnaround jumper gave the Pacers a 69-67 lead with 3:38 left.

Jeff Foster’s layup with 1:22 remaining then made it 74-71, and after a series
of turnovers, Gerald Wallace missed an open three-pointer that would have tied
the game for Charlotte. Jamaal Tinsley missed a runner in the lane as time was
winding down, and the Bobcats had one last chance to even the game. However,
Jason Hart misfired on a three as time ran out and the Pacers held on for the
slim victory.

The rookie Okafor leads the Bobcats in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (11.8
rpg). He has 19 double-doubles on the season. Elvin Hayes set the NBA record
for consecutive double-doubles by a rookie as he posted 60 straight in