He scored 16 of his career-high 27 points in the second half to help the Indiana Pacers win 98-92 on Wednesday night. He grabbed 10 rebounds, shot 9-for-14 from the field and had four assists.
He even had a transition dunk in the fourth quarter, a rare occurrence for the 31-year-old point guard. The two-handed jam gave the Pacers a 90-83 lead with three minutes left.
“It’s nice,” he said. “Now that I’m a little older in age—I’m one of the older guys—they (younger teammates) always give me a hard time about dunking. They say if I can’t show them something, then I need to just lay it in.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Johnson was too strong for the 5-10, 170-pound Brevin Knight.
“I had a good matchup as far as size advantage against their point guard,” Johnson said. “I was just trying to take advantage of that. I was able to get some shots to go down and got to the foul line, and my teammates were looking for me. It was nice to have a big night.”
The Pacers held a 43-29 rebounding edge over Charlotte, which played without one of its top post players. Emeka Okafor, who averages 13 points and 10 rebounds, has missed the last four games with a sprained right ankle.
“We’re asking people to play against guys that outweigh them in some spots by 30 or 40 pounds,” Knight said. “That wears on you after a while.”
The Bobcats led 41-30 in the second quarter before Jasikevicius scored 10 points in an 18-7 run that tied the score at 48. Charlotte scored the last two buckets in the first half to take a 52-48 lead at the break. Knight had 10 points and 10 assists in the first half.
Johnson scored nine points in the third quarter to help the Pacers take a 73-65 lead into the fourth.
Charlotte cut the Pacers’ lead to 82-80 halfway through the final period, but Johnson scored seven points the rest of the way to help the Pacers regain control.
Charlotte, which has lost five straight, shot 57.5 percent in the first half but 38 percent after the break. The Pacers shot 50 percent from the field.
Both teams are dealing with injuries. Okafor and Kareem Rush, two of the Bobcats’ top three scorers, were out. Rush, who averages 12.5 points per game, has been out since Jan. 4 with a sprained left index finger. Sean May, a key reserve, has been out since Dec. 20 with soreness in his right knee.
Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. He leads the Pacers with 21.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley missed his 11th game in a row with a torn right biceps.
Johnson said the Pacers don’t have time to feel sorry for Charlotte.
“It seems like we’re always down, and no one ever takes it easy on us, so in no way can we take it easy on anyone else,” he said. “With us having three starters out, you would think this would be the matchup, but any time guys are out, it gives other guys the opportunity to step up.”
Indiana’s Austin Croshere entered the game as the league leader in free-throw percentage, but made just 9-of-12 from the line. … Jasikevicius scored all 14 of his points in the first half. … Gerald Wallace and Knight are first and second in the league in steals per game. Knight had five thefts and Wallace four as the Bobcats forced 22 turnovers.