CHARLOTTE, N.C. — D.J. Augustin’s dramatic improvement under new Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas had tailed off in the past few weeks. The point guard’s legs were weary, his left wrist hurt and his numbers declined.
A week off for the all-star break was all Augustin needed to return to form. Playing the defensive-challenged Toronto Raptors helped, too.
Augustin had 23 points in his first double-figure scoring effort in five games and added eight assists, helping the Bobcats cruise past the listless Raptors 114-101 on Tuesday night.
Augustin hit eight of 15 shots in 36 minutes after going 14-of-49 from the field in the previous six games.
“He’s human. This is his first time playing a lot of minutes and being a starting point guard,” Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson said. “His body is going to take a little beating.
“It has, but I think he’s bounced back and I think the break definitely helped him.”
Jackson took a scary fall in the only moment of the second half that featured any suspense. Charlotte’s top scorer didn’t return after straining his left hamstring on a drive to the basket. But Jackson said he would have returned if it was a close game.
Gerald Wallace added 20 points and Boris Diaw added 16 points and nine assists for the Bobcats, who took control with a dominant second quarter.
“It was just a satisfying win. You don’t get too many games like that from us,” coach Paul Silas said. “For us to sustain that throughout the game was just really exciting.”
It was another forgettable performance for the Raptors, who are closing in on a franchise record for road ineptitude.
Sonny Weems scored 19 points and Andrea Bargnani added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, who lost their 11th straight road game to tie the longest streak in team history.
“Really, it was men against boys,” coach Jay Triano said.
Tipping off about an hour after announcing they acquired small forward James Johnson from Chicago for a first-round draft pick, the rebuilding Raptors were soon done in by poor defence and miscues in their 18th loss in 20 games.
Toronto allowed the Bobcats to take 43 free-throw attempts. Wallace was 14-of-15 from the line.
“You can’t go into a fist fight slapping, and that’s what we were doing,” Triano said. “We didn’t play very smart on the defensive end. Gerald Wallace has 20 points and he only takes six shots.”
The Bobcats, who remained a game behind Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, knew they needed to take advantage of a soft part of the schedule immediately following the all-star break. The Bobcats host struggling Sacramento on Friday.
The Bobcats turned a tight game into a rout with a 15-4 second-quarter run that included four Toronto turnovers. Charlotte led 61-44 at halftime and led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
Augustin, showing a quick first step on drives, led an offence that assisted on 25-of-38 field goals and committed only nine turnovers.
“I felt pretty good,” Augustin said. “The all-star break gave everybody a chance to rest their legs and I felt pretty rested tonight and played hard. We all did.”
It left Bobcats owner Michael Jordan smiling from his courtside seat in the first game since he removed Silas’ interim tag. Charlotte is 16-13 since Larry Brown was fired.
“Different situations have happened this year with the coaches and just different things,” Augustin said. “I feel like I’m stronger as a person and it’s helped me get better.”
Toronto, which slipped to 5-24 on the road, hasn’t won outside of Canada since Jan. 5 at Cleveland. The Raptors shot 50 per cent from the field but struggled to keep Charlotte from getting to the rim for easy baskets and free throws.
Toronto matched a record for consecutive road defeats set in the 2004-05 season.
“I know it will turn around,” said guard Jerryd Bayless, who had 11 points and 10 assists despite going 0-for-4 from the field. “We’re young, we’re learning.”
NOTES — Jackson said he likely wouldn’t practise Wednesday. … Triano said Raptors F Reggie Evans, out since Nov. 26 because of a foot injury, could play this week. … Silas said Bobcats F Tyrus Thomas (knee surgery) has begun light running and could return in two weeks. … Silas said there’s “nothing happening” on the trade front with Charlotte. “We’re not just going to give people away and that’s what most teams want you to do,” he said. … North Carolina coach Roy Williams sat courtside, watching ex-Tar Heels F Ed Davis play for the Raptors. … Ex-Bobcats C Alexis Ajinca matched a season-high with 10 points for Toronto.