Bobcats score win over Bucks
CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas floated the idea last week of playing point guards D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker at the same time once they got comfortable with each other, even though it might put his team at a big size disadvantage.
Apparently they're comfortable.
When crunch time arrived Monday night both were on the floor. Augustin scored 19 points, Walker added 13, including two free throws with 9.9 seconds remaining, as the Bobcats erased a 14-point second half deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 96-95 in their season opener.
"The Bucks had two guards out there -- two points -- so I figured I could go with two points out there and stop them, hopefully," Silas said.
But the big spark came on offense.
Augustin and Walker combined to score the last seven points for the Bobcats to hold off a late charge.
"That's one thing about Kemba Walker — he ain't gonna give up at all," Silas said. "He stepped up and made two big free throws and it won the game. It was just phenomenal what he did for this ballclub at such a young age having never played professional basketball. He's got it."
Gerald Henderson added 18 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats.
Brandon Jennings had 22 points for the Bucks, while Andrew Bogut had 17 points and nine rebounds.
Augustin injured his left ankle in the final minute when a Bucks player stepped on his heel, but X-rays after the game were negative.
Augustin said the win, which he called "crucial" for the team's confidence, helped ease his pain.
"We stuck together," Augustin said. "We got down by 14 points and we're a young team. A lot of young teams might give up but we never gave up."
The Bucks led by as many as 14 in the third quarter, but the Bobcats finally got their transition game going and made some easy baskets on the other end.
"They took it to us in the third quarter and we had a hard time responding," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "They got all over the offensive glass and we were flat-footed. They were quicker and more athletic. They outplayed us in the third quarter and took control of the game."
The highlight came when Walker drove past Larry Sanders and hit a driving one-handed scoop shot while drawing a foul. That play drew Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, seated courtside, leaping off his seat.
"Yeah, that's my guy," Walker said of Newton, who met after both signed endorsement deals with Under Armor earlier this year.
The Bobcats got a huge lift off the bench from center Byron Mullens, who was acquired in a trade last week with the Thunder. Mullens was 5 of 7 from the field matching his career high with 10 points.
"We practiced all training camp on pushing the ball to get easy buckets and we were doing that in the third quarter," Henderson said.
The Bobcats led 89-81 with 2:10 left, but the Bucks needed less than a minute to erase that deficit. Jennings hit a pair of 3-pointers and Mike Dunleavy added another from the corner to take the lead.
"Coach Silas was mad," Augustin said. "We can't let that happen."
But Augustin made a driving layup with 36.5 seconds left to give the Bobcats a 93-92 lead they'd never relinquish.
Dunleavy had a chance to put the Bucks ahead but missed an open 3-pointer with 11 seconds left. Walker was fouled and made both free throws to seal the win.
Stephen Jackson had a frustrating game against his former team.
After downplaying his return to Charlotte before the game, Jackson fouled out and was charged with a technical foul. He was just 1 of 5 from field and finished with six points.
Before the game, Silas laughed off the notion of this being just another game for the emotional Jackson, saying, "Stephen Jackson is going to try to kill us. He wants everyone to know we made the biggest mistake in the world."
But it was Shaun Livingston, who was also a part of the draft-day trade that sent Jackson to the Bucks, who hurt the Bobcats in the first half. While Jackson was struggling with foul trouble, Livingston had 11 of his 14 points as the Bucks built a 52-41 lead.
Jackson wasn't thrilled with the officiating.
"I don't know why you would think anything would be different just because I came back here to play the Bobcats," Jackson said. "It's the same calls I've been getting for 11 years."
NOTES: Next up for the Bobcats is a home game against the Heat, a big test for a young team. "I watched them play on Christmas night and they look like they have a chip on their shoulder," Augustin said. "We know they have a great team so we have come in and play hard like we did tonight." ... Cam Newton had front row seats to Monday night's game. At one point he went over to Bobcats owner Michael Jordan and shook hands and chatted. ... Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter also took in Monday night's game from a private box. ... Both teams were without their starting strong forwards as Tyrus Thomas sat out for the Bobcats while Luc Mbah a Moute didn't play for the Bucks.