Rush, Felton Star as Bobcats Rout Pacers
Charlotte 122, Indiana 90
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 16 (Ticker) -- Rookie Raymond Felton will remember his first NBA start for a long time.
Felton collected 18 points and 10 assists as the Charlotte Bobcats ended a five-game losing streak with a resounding 122-90 victory over the struggling Indiana Pacers.
The fifth overall pick in the draft, Felton had been backing up starting point guard Brevin Knight, who was second in the NBA in assists last season. However, Knight was sidelined with knee tendinitis, clearing the way for Felton.
"What (Raymond) did first tonight was get his teammates involved," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "That's the first thing he should be looking for. It helped him to get his confidence to see his teammates put it in the hole. You know how it is, it's contagious."
Shooting just 27 percent from the field coming in, Felton drained 6-of-13 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers during a decisive third-quarter surge. He also did an excellent job of running the offense as he helped turn Rush into a lethal weapon.
"It was just one of those nights where I took advantage," Felton said. "I calmed down and ran the team and we played good defense as a team. We were clicking on all cylinders. Everyone was working hard tonight. I felt like I needed to come out and lead the team and try to win this game."
"Raymond came out and played well," Rush said. "It's a lot to ask of a rookie point guard to come out and start a game, especially against a team like Indiana. He came out and had a lot of assists and found the open guys."
Rush made two 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the second quarter, when the Bobcats took the lead for good. He added another 3-pointer in the third quarter and poured it on in the final period, when the Pacers appeared to quit.
"Tonight was one of those nights where you felt you could make everything," said Rush, who made 12-of-15 shots, including 6-of-7 from the arc. "I just wasn't hesitating and was taking shots when my teammates were looking for me. I was due for a night like this. Once I got started, I couldn't stop. The rim looked as big as an ocean."
"I am surprised," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "The thing that struck me most of all is that these guys (the Bobcats) played a desperate game. After a good start, we eased into the last three quarters and they beat us."
Considered a championship contender, Indiana won four of its first five games before blowing a 14-point lead in the last four minutes of a loss at Milwaukee on Saturday. Four days later, the Pacers were run out of Bobcats Arena by a second-year expansion team.
Charlotte's starters responded well after sharp criticism from Bickerstaff. They combined for 95 points compared to just 29 on Tuesday night against Orlando.
"I respect what the Bobcats did tonight," Indiana forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "I respect their response to their criticism from their coach. That's what a pro should do. I'm interested to see how well we respond. We shouldn't be making up excuses about the Milwaukee game. The Milwaukee game had nothing to do with this game. If we're going to lose, we've got to lose respectfully. We didn't do that tonight."
The Bobcats trailed, 30-22, after one period but opened the second quarter with a 20-5 surge that gave them the lead for good. Keith Bogans had two 3-pointers and Rush capped it at 42-35 with a 3-pointer and layup.
The Pacers cut a 56-46 halftime deficit to 67-62 on a free throw by O'Neal, who scored 17 points. Felton sank two 3-pointers before a basket by fellow rookie Sean May ended a 14-3 run and rebuilt the lead to 81-65 with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
"We weren't a good team tonight," O'Neal said. "We don't make excuses, and tonight's loss was no excuse. We shouldn't even get paid tonight. The Bobcats played great tonight, but it seems like we took 10 steps back tonight. It looked like we were the expansion team tonight. I'm thoroughly embarrassed."
Emeka Okafor had 20 points and 12 rebounds, May scored 15 points and Bogans added 14 for Charlotte, which shot 53 percent (41-of-78), including 11-of-18 from the arc, and drained 29-of-32 free throws.
Ron Artest scored 27 points for the Pacers, who won all three meetings between the clubs last season. They get a chance to get even at home Friday.
"When we are playing well, there are very few teams that are as good as us," said Carlisle, whose team committed 26 turnovers and was outscored on the fast break, 24-1. "And when things don't go well for us, that's when we have to look in the mirror as a group. We have some soul-searching to do. We have to play these guys again (Friday), which is not going to be any fun based on what I saw tonight. But we don't have much time so we have to get the wheels back on."