Bosh gets best of rookie Okafor

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Chris Bosh must have been listening to the praise being heaped on Charlotte Bobcats rookie Emeka Okafor before the Raptors' 103-92 win yesterday, because the 20-year-old went out and got some attention himself.

The match-up pitted two of the best young players in the NBA head-to-head in the matinee at the Air Canada Centre.

Fans in Toronto have been aware of Bosh's antics over the past month, going nine consecutive games with a double-double.

But Okafor was coming into Bosh's house with a 19-game double-double streak of his own set earlier this season.

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said that the youngster, who played for the University of Connecticut Huskies, is the real deal.

"In my estimation (Okafor) is rookie of the year," Mitchell said. "(But) by him playing four years of college, I don't treat him as a rookie."

Just how good is Okafor?

Well his double-double streak puts him in front of Houston Rockets' Yao Ming, puts him in front of the San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan and even puts him in front of the Miami Heat's big man Shaquille O'Neal.

Okafor also leads the expansion Bobcats in playing time, averaging a whopping 36 minutes a game.

So when Mitchell put the onus on Bosh, with help from rookie Rafael Araujo and Matt Bonner, to keep Okafor in check yesterday, it seemed to be a tall order.

But the trio held Okafor to just nine points and 11 rebounds, his poorest showing in a month.

"Those guys just battled and battled and battled," Mitchell said. "That guy (Okafor) is a good player. But I think (Bosh) is a good player too."

Mitchell said Bosh's performance yesterday -- 21 points and eight rebounds and five blocked shots -- showed how much he has grown as a player.

Bosh didn't want to play up his part in shutting Okafor down.

"I was just playing my game," Bosh said. "I wasn't out there looking for (Okafor). I don't have time to think like that. I just wanted to compete."


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