(WSCR) – The Charlotte Bobcats had a fierce start facing the Bulls, setting Chicago behind 13 points at the half. The Bulls pushed to gain the lead in the second half, taking a one-point lead in the third period. However, Charlotte stopped the Bulls in their tracks to win 96-91.
D.J. Augustin had 22 points and 12 assists, hit four decisive free throws down the stretch and outplayed Derrick Rose in the Charlotte Bobcats’ 96-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
The Bulls, off to their best start since their last title under Michael Jordan in 1998, couldn’t keep it going with Jordan sitting courtside.
The Bobcats owner stood and clapped as the final seconds ticked down in Charlotte’s fourth straight win. Ex-Bull Tyrus Thomas added 17 points and 13 rebounds as the Bobcats moved to 6-2 under interim coach Paul Silas.
Carlos Boozer had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Luol Deng added 22 points for Chicago, which lost for only the fifth time in 20 games.
Rose, who had been on a tear of late, scored 17 points on 5-of-17 shooting and committed a key turnover in the final minute.
The Bobcats had to make big plays down the stretch after seeing a 17-point, second-quarter lead turn into an 80-75 deficit with 8:08 left.
Thomas’ reverse layup with 1:14 left put Charlotte ahead 90-89. After Rose missed a contested layup, the Bobcats got the ball back on a video review of an out of bounds call.
Stephen Jackson’s fadeaway jumper amid a bad shooting night with 34 seconds left gave Charlotte a three-point lead. Rose’s fourth turnover of the night came on the next possession when he threw a bad pass in the lane.
Augustin then hit four straight free throws to put it away. He had only one turnover in another solid game since Silas replaced the fired Larry Brown.
Jackson had 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting, while Gerald Wallace returned after missing most of the past month with a left ankle injury to score 14 points and grab seven rebounds.
After running off five wins under Silas in a soft part of their schedule, Chicago serves as one of the Bobcats’ biggest wins of the season despite a hiccup after halftime.
With Deng and Rose consistently getting to the line and Charlotte’s Jackson clanging jumpers, the Bulls dominated the third quarter. Deng’s layup off a pick-and-roll gave Chicago its first lead at 68-67 with 1:08 left.
But the Bulls, who rallied from a 12-point halftime to beat Detroit on Monday, couldn’t hold on in their third straight road loss as Jordan celebrated.
Jordan has taken a more hands-on approach this week, getting involved in practice Tuesday and in Wednesday morning’s shootaround.
“That’s cool. He’s got a lot to say and it’s usually on the money,” Silas said before the game. “Everything he talks about his positive. It’s nothing negative so it’s all good. Not too many owners come around like that – with his knowledge.”
Jordan’s tutoring seemed to spark Charlotte early. The Bobcats met little resistance inside with Kwame Brown, filling in again for Nazr Mohammed (knee), hitting his first four shots.
The Bobcats had four of five starters in double figures by halftime in building as much as a 17-point lead. After a lethargic start, the Bulls clamped down defensively in cutting the deficit to 55-42 at halftime behind Deng’s 10 points.
Notes: Coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose has also improved defensively, most specifically at getting over screens and challenging shots. Rose said he’s hoping to become a lockdown defender. “I look at Kobe Bryant. He’s a guy that tries to kill you on both ends,” Rose said. … Bobcats assistant and former Bulls big man Charles Oakley was a popular guy when Chicago arrived for shootaround. “When he goes into something he’s 100 percent committed to it,” Thibodeau said. “I think he’s figuring out now what he wants to do.” … Deng was assessed a flagrant foul for taking down Tyrus Thomas on a breakaway late in the second quarter.
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