Knicks can't stop Bobcats
L
110
126
New York vs Charlotte
110 - 126
Record: 16-22
Stephon Marbury led the Knicks with 28 points (MSG Photo)
Stephon Marbury led the Knicks with 28 points (MSG Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) - 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. Charlotte hit nine of its first 11 shots in the period.

Charlotte shot 67 percent (12-of-18) in the period, when it outscored New York 36-27. Carroll had 10 points in the period.

Anderson finished 9-of-11 in his best game of the season and Carroll was 8-of-12. The Bobcats went 10-of-18 (56 percent) beyond the 3-point line.

" Matt Carroll , Derek Anderson , Felton, they played a tremendous game at the guard spots," Lee said. "They were hitting shots tonight. They definitely were shooting above their percentages. That's the same team that just went in and beat Detroit. They're a hot team right now."

The Knicks climbed within seven in the fourth quarter before Marbury's no-look pass hit Curry on top of his head and led to a fast break, which Primoz Brezec capped with a jumper for a 101-92 lead with 6:35 left. Felton scored on a drive on the next possession to push the lead back into double digits, and the Bobcats were safely ahead the rest of the way.

Channing Frye scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Knicks built a 30-26 lead despite allowing Charlotte to shoot 57 percent. New York extended the lead to nine with under 3 minutes remaining in the half, but the Bobcats scored the final 10 points, taking a 52-51 advantage into the locker room after Felton converted a three-point play with 18 seconds to go.

Notes:
Lee (61.2) and Curry (57.5) entered second and fifth in the NBA in field goal percentage. ... Carroll came in as the league's top foul shooter at 93.8 percent (61-of-65). He went 4-of-5 Friday. ... Bobcats swingman Gerald Wallace missed his fourth straight game with an injured right shoulder. ... The Knicks' record for blocks by an opponent is held by Larry Nance, who had 11 for Cleveland on Jan. 7, 1989. Dikembe Mutombo had 10 blocks for the Knicks at MSG, against the New Jersey Nets on Jan. 4, 2004.

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