Jackson has yet to transform the Bobcats into a good team away from home, however, and they’ll have a tough task avoiding a ninth road loss in 10 games Friday night when they face the San Antonio Spurs.
Charlotte (9-11) was 3-6 when it acquired Jackson, and lost its first three games - all on the road - with him, falling six games under .500 and looking like a long shot to make the franchise’s first playoff appearance.
Suddenly, things are looking up for the league’s most recent addition. The Bobcats went from averaging 82.4 points without Jackson to 96.6 since his arrival, and they’ve won six of their past eight after he and Gerald Wallace(notes) scored 25 points apiece Tuesday in a 107-95 victory against Denver.
Aside from scoring 10 fourth-quarter points, Jackson also earned high marks for his defense. He kept Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony(notes) scoreless for the final 4:13 as the Bobcats closed on a 16-6 run.
“I want be to be able to make plays for guys, get my shots and at the same time guard their best player,” Jackson told the NBA’s official Web site. “Anytime there is a great scorer out there and I can guard him it gets my game going. It gets my level up and I’m always up to that challenge.”
Jackson’s arrival has also helped Gerald Wallace elevate his game. Wallace was averaging 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while shooting 35.4 percent in his first nine games, but has averaged 18.0 points, 12.8 rebounds and shot 49.6 percent since Jackson was acquired.
Charlotte’s defense, meanwhile, has allowed 3.7 more points per game than it did before the trade, but coach Larry Brown’s club remains the league’s stingiest (90.6 ppg).
“Our defense has always been good,” said Wallace, the league’s leading rebounder (12.4 per game) despite being listed at 6-foot-7. “If we can keep our turnovers down and get back on defense and keep people in front of us we have a pretty good opportunity (to win) every game.”
Wallace, the only original Bobcat still with the franchise, has never played well against the Spurs (10-9), and that’s part of the reason Charlotte has lost nine of 10 all time to San Antonio. Wallace has averaged 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 36.4 percent in eight games against the Spurs with the Bobcats.
San Antonio hasn’t looked much like the team that entered 2009-10 as the winningest of the decade, already posting two three-game losing streaks - one more than it had last season.
The Spurs snapped their most recent skid Wednesday with one of their best offensive performances. Richard Jefferson(notes) scored 23 points and Manu Ginobili(notes) added 20 off the bench as San Antonio shot 55.3 percent in a 118-106 win over Sacramento.
“We got some buckets in transition and made some plays and for the most part just did things with confidence,” said Jefferson, who had averaged 7.8 points in his past five games. “I’d like to believe that the more I play, the more used to the offense I’m going to get.”
Ginobili’s breakout game has to be just as encouraging for the Spurs. He had averaged 9.5 points on 34.3 percent shooting in his previous four games after returning from a strained left groin.