CHARLOTTE, N.C. (NBA.com exclusive) -- Andre Miller and Raymond Felton were two of the top point guards available in free agency in the offseason. Miller left Philadelphia and signed with the Blazers while Felton, a restricted free agent, re-upped with the Bobcats.
Neither player was the leading scorer for his respective team Saturday night, but Miller played a key role in Portland's 80-74 victory, lending a calming influence on his younger teammates.
In the nearly 39 minutes Miller was on the floor, the Blazers outscored the Bobcats by 14. Conversely, in the nearly 35 minutes Felton played, Charlotte had a 14-point deficit. Miller finished second on the team with 15 points and added six rebounds and an assist.
Miller started the season coming off the bench, as coach Nate McMillan was hesitant to mess too much with the chemistry of last year's 54-win team. But Miller was inserted into the lineup six games ago and Portland is undefeated in that stretch.
"He's starting to get a feel for our guys and what he can do," McMillan said of his point guard. "They're getting a feel for what he can do and he's doing a good job of running the team. He's making some big plays and all of a sudden they look like they've got a little chemistry out there."
During the offseason, the Blazers were linked first to a scorer in Hedo Turkoglu and then to frontcourt help in Paul Millsap and David Lee. Eventually they turned their sights to Miller, who averaged 16.3 points and 6.5 assists for the 76ers last season, his 10th in the league.
"We wanted some experience and we wanted another ball handler and we got that," McMillan said. "Andre's had some success against me over the years. I've always liked and respected what he did out on the floor. And now he's got a young team that we want him to lead. He's trying to get a feel for who these guys are and what they're capable of doing."
Before signing with the Blazers, Miller's teams were 8-1 against McMillan and Portland.
The Blazers, playing their fourth road game in five nights, came out sluggish against the Bobcats. It did not help that center Greg Oden picked up two quick fouls and was forced to the bench just 4:38 into the game and did not return until the third quarter.
Without the big man, Portland struggled in the paint. The Blazers entered the game leading the league in rebounding margin at 7.30. But the Bobcats took advantage of Oden's absence to hold a 13-10 rebounding edge in the first quarter and the game was knotted 18-18 after 12 minutes.
Behind its reserves, Charlotte used a 10-2 run at the start of the second quarter to jump out to a 28-20 lead. But Portland ran off an 18-2 run and never trailed again.
The key to the run was the return of Brandon Roy. After starting the game missing four of his first five shots, Roy hit three of his next four and gave the Blazers a much-needed spark.
Roy continued his hot shooting in the second half, hitting five-of-seven shots after halftime to finish with a game-high 25 points. He also joined LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez as rebounding leader with seven boards.
"We were running on fumes tonight and just found a way, each of them, to make plays, whether it was a defensive stop or running down a loose ball or scoring a basket," McMillan said. "The All-Star Brandon Roy came out again down the stretch making some big shots to keep the game five to six points."
The Bobcats came into the game leading the league with an average of 18-plus forced turnovers. But they stayed close thanks to a season-low 11 giveaways. On top of that, they outscored the Blazers 16-3 off turnovers.
But Charlotte could not survive another dreadful shooting night. The Bobcats, who came into the game last in the league with a 39.8 shooting percentage, hit just 36.6 percent Saturday.
Boris Diaw led Charlotte with 21 points on 50 percent shooting. The rest of the team shot 32.8 (21-for-64) against a Portland squad that came in second in field-goal percentage allowed at .415.
There was a scuffle at the end of the game, which ended up with five technicals. LaMarcus Aldridge and Roy were whistled for the Blazers and Raja Bell, Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace received them for the Bobcats.
"I didn't see exactly what happened," McMillan said. "For LaMarcus to get upset like that, someone did something dirty. When I went out there he was pretty upset. Those guys don't play that way. For them to respond that way, someone did something they weren't supposed to."