CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—It didn’t take long for rookie D.J. Augustin to unseat Raymond Felton as Charlotte’s point guard. Only Felton didn’t lose his starting job, leaving a tiny backcourt that—at least for a night—got the Bobcats out of their offensive funk.
Augustin and Felton, each about six-feet tall, combined for 48 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds in their third game starting together, and the Bobcats beat the Philadelphia 76ers 93-84 Monday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
Coach Larry Brown began tinkering with the lineup after shooting guard Jason Richardson was sidelined after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery about two weeks ago. Brown decided last Friday to start the undersized pair, and Augustin scored 26 points in a loss to Atlanta.
They started again in a loss to Milwaukee a day later, and on Monday the duo that led the NBA’s lowest-scoring team to pile up 21 assists on 34 field goals.
“I kind of figured it was going to happen at some point because we played so well together,” said Felton, who has bounced from both guard spots since being the fifth pick in the 2005 draft. “Coach was doing it a little bit even before. So with J-Rich being out, it wasn’t a surprise. I was kind of like, ‘OK, let’s go, let’s make this happen.”’
They did. Augustin scored 25 points and added a career-high 11 assists. Felton had 23 points and seven rebounds. They combined to shoot 16 for 22 with only six turnovers.
“Ray’s a tough player. He’s not going to let anybody back him,” said Augustin, who left Texas after his sophomore season. “I’m not going to let anybody back me down. So we just play hard and play with heart. Size doesn’t matter.”
Apparently not to the Sixers, who somehow couldn’t take advantage of a seemingly big advantage up front.
Elton Brand had 18 points, but made only 6 of 13 shots and fouled out with under a minute left. He was nowhere near as dominant as he was a night earlier in a win over Golden State that got the Sixers to .500 for the first time. Thaddeus Young was held to six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Andre Iguodala added 17 points for the Sixers, who shot 40 percent and had their two-game winning streak snapped.
“We expected to better than that,” Brand said. “We will be better than that. It’s a work in progress.”
The Bobcats, who came in as the NBA’s lowest-scoring team at 86.7 points per game, shot 55 percent and overcame 21 turnovers despite getting little from their frontcourt.
“They deserved to win this ballgame,” Brand said. “They outhustled us on a few loose balls and they knocked down timely shots.”
Augustin was one of two rookies to start for Charlotte, joining fellow first-round pick Alexis Ajinca, symbolizing Brown’s lack of options up front.
The skinny 7-footer, who replaced the out-of-shape Sean May at power forward, committed two fouls in the first three minutes. He was replaced by the aging Nazr Mohammed, then Ryan Hollins. With Emeka Okafor continuing to struggle at center, the foursome combined to shoot 1-for-9 in the first half.
It didn’t prompt Brown to put in May, who didn’t get off the bench for a second straight game. He was seen running on the team’s practice court more than two hours before tipoff as he struggles to get fit following knee surgery last year.
Okafor finished with six turnovers, too. So Charlotte depended on its guards. Augustin scored 13 points in the third quarter as Charlotte took the lead for good. Felton had 12 points in the first half, helping the Bobcats rally from a seven-point deficit to tie it at halftime.
“It’s fun when you feel like your team’s trying hard and accomplishing things,” said the well-traveled Brown, after the fourth game of 25 this season against teams he used to coach.
This time, Brown finally got his first win, thanks to his undersized duo.
“You’ve got to adjust your game,” Felton said. “I’m a point guard, so even when I’m at the 2, I can use my point guard skills. I can penetrate, set up the post and make things happen.”
Richardson is expected to practice Tuesday for the first time since his surgery, and could play later this week. … Brown said he wasn’t surprised to learn free-agent F Antonio McDyess had spurned Charlotte’s offer and will re-sign with Detroit. “Knowing Dice, I knew that was a long shot,” Brown said. “I just want him to be happy.” … C Dwayne Jones did not play, hours after he signed with Charlotte following a stint in Turkey.