For a team that’s lost five in a row, the Charlotte Bobcats have still found a reason to be optimistic.
The Philadelphia 76ers wish they could say the same.
Stephen Jackson’s(notes) debut gave the Bobcats an offensive boost that they’ll hope paves the way to a win Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center, where Marreese Speights’(notes) injury and Elton Brand’s(notes) struggle to bounce back from his may prompt the 76ers to revamp their frontcourt.
Needing to shake up an offense that was the NBA’s worst (82.4 points per game) through nine games, Charlotte (3-7) acquired the disgruntled Jackson, a 20-point scorer the past two seasons, and guard Acie Law(notes) from Golden State on Monday for Raja Bell(notes) and Vladimir Radmanovic(notes).
Jackson’s debut came hours later, when he scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Bobcats’ 97-91 loss at Orlando. Despite a fifth straight defeat, Charlotte’s 91 points were the second-most it’s scored in regulation and its 50.7 percent shooting was a season-high.
“I love him and he gives us flexibility,” coach Larry Brown said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win without really having much organization. Now we just need to keep playing hard and together.”
Somewhat overshadowed in Jackson’s first game with the Bobcats was the performance of Flip Murray(notes). The Philadelphia native, on his sixth team in five years, tied a career high with 31 points off the bench.
Jackson saw enough in his debut to be convinced Charlotte can contend for its first postseason berth.
“We just have to play together a little bit more and figure out how we all play and where we want the ball,” Jackson said. “We have a good chance of getting into that playoff run. We just can’t dig ourselves too big of a hole right now.”
Jackson has averaged 17.4 points in leading his teams to four wins in their last five visits to Philadelphia.
The Bobcats have also won four of five against the Sixers (4-6), and Raymond Felton(notes) has been the biggest reason why. The fifth-year point guard, who’s scoring 11.4 points while shooting 36.4 percent from the field, has averaged 21.2 points on 56.7 percent shooting and 7.0 assists in those meetings.
Philadelphia has its own former ACC star struggling in Brand, who’s averaging 9.8 points - 10 below his career average - in his first 10 games after missing most of the past two seasons to injury.
Brand had 11 points in 31 minutes on Saturday in a 94-88 loss at Chicago, but sat out the fourth quarter. He’s been unproductive enough that coach Eddie Jordan had him practicing with the Sixers’ second unit Monday, prompting speculation Jordan may shake up the starting lineup by inserting backup Jason Smith(notes).
“The last time (Elton) was at peak, he averaged 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds),” Jordan said. “We understand that his play will pick up as he plays more. Right now, we’re a little behind the eight ball because he’s coming off an injury and hasn’t played for two years. We have to have patience and confidence that he’ll get to that level.”
That potential change may seem even stranger given the injury to Speights, who suffered a partial tear of the MCL in his left knee in Chicago and will miss six to eight weeks. Speights was averaging 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 23 minutes.
The Sixers were already among the league’s 10-worst rebounding clubs (40.0 per game) prior to Speights’ injury.