The Charlotte Bobcats gained plenty of confidence by winning the opener of a challenging six-game homestand.
They'll try to knock off another playoff team from a season ago when they meet the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon.
Charlotte (2-3) is in the midst of a difficult homestand in which every opponent reached the playoffs in 2007-08. In their first four seasons, the Bobcats have never been to the postseason, but there is some cause for optimism with Larry Brown in his first year as coach.
Brown's club used a stellar defensive effort to post a 92-89 win over New Orleans on Friday night. The Hornets were held to 42.1 percent shooting - the lowest mark this season by a Bobcats' opponent.
"We got a lot of good teams coming in these next five or six games, but you still gotta win," Charlotte point guard Raymond Felton said. "I think we played one of the best teams in the league tonight and we beat them so I think we can beat any other team that comes in here. You gotta protect the house."
Toronto (3-2) certainly qualifies as a good team, but the Raptors have lost two straight after a 3-0 start. They turned in their worst defensive performance of the season by allowing Atlanta to shoot 54.3 percent in a 110-92 loss on Friday.
"There was just nothing we could do to stop them," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "We just couldn't guard them tonight. Almost everybody was off. It happens."
Charlotte, meanwhile, was excellent on defense Friday, holding the Hornets' Chris Paul scoreless in the first half. Felton and Jason Richardson each scored 20 points to lead the Bobcats.
But it was rookie point guard D.J. Augustin who provided a spark off the bench with 11 points and four assists while keying a critical fourth-quarter run.
"Every game is a learning experience for me," Augustin said. "They are a very good team and it's a good momentum builder for us."
The Bobcats got 34 points from their bench, and the numerous contributions have given Brown plenty of options.
"I'm thrilled with Matt Carroll and Adam Morrison and Jared Dudley and Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson," Brown said. "There's just so many minutes, and that's my dilemma."
Mitchell may be thinking about moving Anthony Parker out of the starting lineup since the shooting guard is off to a slow start. He's shooting 38.8 percent, and managed a total of only 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting in the last two games.
Jason Kapono, who started seven games last season, could be poised to make his first start of the season after a solid 14-point performance Friday.
The Raptors trailed by as many as 27 points in that loss and allowed the Hawks to make 12 3-pointers.
"We have to do a better job of executing on defense than we did tonight," Parker said. "We let guys get to the basket and do what they wanted tonight. We just didn't get it done."
Charlotte and Toronto split four meetings last season.
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