Emeka Okafor vs. The Millenium Goliath

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

No, it's not a new comic-book or movie: The Rookie vs. The Millenium Goliath is merely the title of Emeka Okafor's first season in the NBA. The Olympian-to-be will face the most-dominant more than he will face any other center (barring midseason trades). How will he stack up?

Though it will take a while for Okafor to develop into a Ben Wallace-like defender, Okafor probably has enough offensive moves to at least keep Shaq busy on the other end. And if GM/coach Bernie Bickerstaff can get this team to run, they can try to wear out Shaq. That would be the best-case scenario for Okafor.

The worst-case scenario is a couple quick fouls followed by bench time followed by another couple quick fouls followed by bench time followed by a hands-off approach to defense that gives Shaq six straight points followed by Okafor fouling out. Shaq has faced every possible imaginable defense against him from Hack-a-Shaq to Run-a-Shaq to Attack-a-Shaq, and he's still around.

The most likely scenario is Okafor will try to defend the big fella one-on-one without drawing fouls unless Shaq is right under the basket. On the other end, he will try to draw some fouls of his own on Shaq. It'll likely end up with Shaq threatening to hit the 30 point, 12 rebound mark will Okafor will be at the 12 point, 15 rebound mark.

And that's about as good a game as anybody can hope to get against O'Neal.

The 4-1 Bobcats, winners of four in a row, hope to keep their momentum going in the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue. They take on the Chicago Bulls tonight at 8:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. MDT. The remainder of their RMR schedule is as follows:

*Charlotte 62, ATLANTA 87
*CHARLOTTE 74, San Antonio 61
*CHARLOTTE 85, Seattle 63
*CHARLOTTE 79, Indiana 63
*CHARLOTTE 87, Dallas 76
*Thursday, July 22nd - Chicago - 8:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 23rd - Utah - 10:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 24th - Bye

CHARLOTTE 87, Dallas 76 -- Official Game Review:
Dallas and Charlotte traded baskets to start the last game of the night. Charlotte’s sharp-shooting guard Jason Kapono came out strong, scoring eight points, including a three pointer. The usually-potent Marquis Daniels was held to just two points, but helped his team by dishing out three assists. Despite shooting 57 percent from the field during the first quarter, the Mavs found themselves down four entering the second quarter.

Poor shooting contributed to the Bobcats increasing their lead in the second quarter. After shooting 57 percent in the previous quarter, the Mavs went cold, hitting 4 of 18 shots for 22 percent. Melvin Ely anchored a 17 point Charlotte quarter with six points. Dallas’ Ajani Williams helped keep his team, getting to the line four times while scoring six points and snagging three rebounds, but still the Mavs trailed at the half, 38-31.

The Mavs put their poor shooting quarter behind them and used their experienced guard, Marquis Daniels to put the pressure on the Bobcats. Daniels scored seven points and Russian center Pavel Podkolzine added four points on two dunks. Melvin Ely’s high-energy play pushed the Charlotte lead to as much as 12 points before the Mavs came charging back with Jon Steffenson closing the gap to four.

The Mavs momentum at the end of third didn’t carry over into the early goings of the fourth quarter. The Bobcats, however, came out running, scoring 20 points within the first five minutes of the quarter, behind Maurice Carter’s 10 points off the bench. Ely’s toughness inside led all scorers with 21 points. Dallas’ Devin Harris and Jon Steffenson led all Mavericks with 16 points a piece.


The Charlotte Observerwrites: Melvin Ely scored a game-high 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting as the Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Dallas Mavericks 87-76 in a Rocky Mountain Revue summer league game.The Bobcats, 4-1 in the Revue and 9-1 in summer-league play, went on a 16-3 run to start the fourth quarter. Charlotte also scored 28 points off Mavericks turnovers. 

The Dallas Morning Newswrites: Five Mavericks scored in double figures, including four starters, but it wasn't enough as Dallas lost, 87-76, to the expansion Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night in the Rocky Mountain Revue. Dallas trailed, 60-56, heading into the fourth quarter, but Charlotte scored 20 points within the first five minutes of the quarter to put the game out of reach... Center Pavel Podkolzin had 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds in 24 minutes.