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11/02/2012 11:08 PM EDT
Bobcats snap 23-game slide, beat Pacers 90-89
CHARLOTTE 90, INDIANA 89
By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The agony is over for Michael Jordan and
the Charlotte Bobcats.
Kemba Walker scored a career-high 30 points in Mike Dunlap's
coaching debut and the Bobcats snapped a 23-game losing streak
with a 90-89 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
The Bobcats lost their final 23 games last season to finish
7-59, the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history
prompting Jordan, the team's owner, to proclaim the franchise
had "hit rock bottom."
Now they're looking to start a different kind of streak.
"It was something that was in the back of all of our heads,"
Walker said. "We didn't want that streak to keep on with us, so
to get it over with now was extremely important. But now that
it's over we don't ever want to get to that point again."
The Bobcats, playing with a newfound aggressiveness on defense
under Dunlap - they forced 19 turnovers - started the year
strong against a Pacers team that won 19 of 33 road games last
"They look like a different team out there," said guard D.J.
Augustin, who joined the Pacers this offseason as a free agent
after four seasons with the Bobcats.
"They came at us with a full court trap and it kind of threw us
off our game. They were very intense."
Dunlap has been preaching defense throughout the preseason and
hammering his players with 3- to 4-hour practice sessions to
build their conditioning.
It seemed to pay off.
"Guys are really, really buying in and that's all it takes,"
Walker said. "It's about sacrifice. It's about buying into what
your leader is preaching. It showed tonight. We made some huge
stops at the end."
It was a strange finish as the teams combined to score just two
points in the game's final 2:37. Indiana had several chances but
turnovers and missed shots proved to be their undoing.
Augustin tried to bury his old team with an 18-foot jumper from
the wing as time expired but it bounced away.
"I had a good look at it, but it just didn't go down," Augustin
Said Dunlap: "The most important thing was to kill the elephant
and that elephant was that losing streak. We had to get that off
of everybody's back. It's just one of those marks you want to
clean off the board."
Walker was the catalyst all game for the Bobcats, hitting 9 of
his first 13 shots - most of those coming on drives to the lane
where the 6-foot-1 point guard somehow managed to get his shots
above much taller defenders and get them with a soft touch high
off the glass.
When asked how he made some of those shots, Walker laughed and
said, "I don't know.
"I think I was having a really good night. Coach Dunlap was
helping with those kinds of crazy shots all offseason. It's just
all of the hard work that has been paying off."
Walker also drew contact along the way, making 9 of 10 free
throws, an area where the Pacers struggled all game. Indiana
shot just 59 percent from the free throw line.
Gerald Henderson added 18 points for the Bobcats and Ramon
Sessions chipped in 11 points, including a big 3-pointer early
in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 15
The Bobcats were the worst shooting team in the league last
season, but they came out strong building a 12-3 lead. That was
short-lived as they quickly cooled off going more than 6 minutes
without a point. The Pacers grabbed the lead behind 12
hard-fought points by Hansbrough and took a 43-39 halftime lead.
Walker scored eight quick points to start the second half,
giving the Bobcats a lead they would never relinquish.
Indiana played without forward Danny Granger, the team's leading
scorer the past five seasons, who continues to be sidelined
indefinitely with soreness in his left knee. Before the game,
coach Frank Vogel said they are still awaiting the medical
results of a second opinion on his knee.
The Pacers shot just 36.5 percent from the field.
"It was a tough shooting night but you have to give the Bobcats
credit," Vogel said. "Kemba Walker was sensational. We turned
the ball over too much and we couldn't knock down our free
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's
draft, struggled offensively for the Bobcats going 1 for 7 from
the field and he didn't play much down the stretch.
However, he played hard with seven rebounds and was impressive
at times on defense.
In the second quarter Kidd-Gilchrist skied to block a shot by
7-foot Roy Hibbert in the lane, igniting a fastbreak layup and
three-point play on the other end by Walker.
"I was nervous coming into this game," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "I'm
a rookie. So, I was just nervous. But I thought I did pretty
NOTES: Pacers F Sam Young only played 20 seconds before leaving
with a right shoulder injury. He was hurt when he got Henderson
in the air with a pump fake and Henderson's leg landed on his
shoulder on the way down. ... Former professional wrestler Ric
"The Nature Boy" Flair attended the game. ... The Bobcats won
their season opener last year before the season quickly began to
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