CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Bobcats are hoping the return of point guard D.J. Augustin means the end of a dubious 15-game losing streak, the longest in franchise history.
The Bobcats (3-25) have lost 11 straight games with Augustin sidelined with inflammation in his right toe.
Coach Paul Silas said he was impressed watching Augustin run and cut in practice Tuesday and is leaning toward starting him Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first of three consecutive road games. That's a change from earlier in the week when Silas said Augustin would likely return but would probably only play about 15 minutes.
"He's the kind of kid where I probably could just let him go and start him," Silas said. "I'm leaning toward starting him, yes. I'm considering it."
Augustin is second on the Bobcats in scoring, averaging 13.6 points per game. That ranks behind only Gerald Henderson, who remains out of the starting lineup with strained hamstring.
Silas said the combination of Augustin and Corey Maggette, who returned to action late last week after missing 19 games, should be a huge boost to the league's 30th-ranked offense.
Augustin also provides solid veteran leadership, something they've been missing with Kemba Walker.
Augustin is also better at distributing the ball, averaging 6.6 assists per game to Walker's 3.6.
"D.J. is a great shooter on outside shots and if he's open he has a better than 50-50 chance to make that shot," Silas said. "But running the ball club we really didn't have anybody who was looking for the assists before they shot and getting us in what we need to run."
Augustin's returns likely means Walker will return to the bench and serve as the backup point guard. However, Silas said there will be some situations where Augustin and Walker will be on the court at the same time. He said the small ball guard duo worked well together in practice Tuesday.
Augustin said he was a little sore after practice but should be ready to go.
"For a while I couldn't even push off my right foot offensively or defensively," Augustin said. "Today in practice I was able to guard people on defense and drive to the hole and do what I do.... When I get in the lane I do a lot of quick cuts and stuff like that. I wasn't able to do that before because my foot hurt."
Augustin said he's been fitted for new shoes but they haven't arrived yet.
"It takes them a little while to make them," Augustin said.