Bobcats’ Jackson ready to meet up with 76ers

By Brett Huston,
STATS Writer

For a team that’s lost five in a row, the Charlotte Bobcats have still found a reason to be optimistic.

The Philadelphia 76ers wish they could say the same.

Stephen Jackson’s debut gave the Bobcats an offensive boost that

they’ll hope paves the way to a win Wednesday night at the Wachovia

Center, where Marreese Speights’ injury and Elton Brand’s struggle to

bounce back from his may prompt the 76ers to revamp their frontcourt.

Needing to shake up an offense that was the NBA’s worst (82.4 points

per game) through nine games, Charlotte (3-7) acquired the disgruntled

Jackson, a 20-point scorer the past two seasons, and guard Acie Law

from Golden State on Monday for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.

Jackson’s debut came hours later, when he scored 13 points and grabbed

nine rebounds in the Bobcats’ 97-91 loss at Orlando. Despite a fifth

straight defeat, Charlotte’s 91 points were the second-most it’s scored

in regulation and its 50.7 percent shooting was a season-high.

“I love him and he gives us flexibility,” coach Larry Brown said. “We

gave ourselves a chance to win without really having much organization.

Now we just need to keep playing hard and together.”

Somewhat overshadowed in Jackson’s first game with the Bobcats was the

performance of Flip Murray. The Philadelphia native, on his sixth team

in five years, tied a career high with 31 points off the bench.

Jackson saw enough in his debut to be convinced Charlotte can contend for its first postseason berth.

“We just have to play together a little bit more and figure out how we

all play and where we want the ball,” Jackson said. “We have a good

chance of getting into that playoff run. We just can’t dig ourselves

too big of a hole right now.”

Jackson has averaged 17.4 points in leading his teams to four wins in their last five visits to Philadelphia.

The Bobcats have also won four of five against the Sixers (4-6), and

Raymond Felton has been the biggest reason why. The fifth-year point

guard, who’s scoring 11.4 points while shooting 36.4 percent from the

field, has averaged 21.2 points on 56.7 percent shooting and 7.0

assists in those meetings.

Philadelphia

has its own former ACC star struggling in Brand, who’s averaging 9.8

points – 10 below his career average – in his first 10 games after

missing most of the past two seasons to injury.

Brand had 11 points in 31 minutes on Saturday in a 94-88 loss at

Chicago, but sat out the fourth quarter. He’s been unproductive enough

that coach Eddie Jordan had him practicing with the Sixers’ second unit

Monday, prompting speculation Jordan may shake up the starting lineup

by inserting backup Jason Smith.

“The last

time (Elton) was at peak, he averaged 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds),”

Jordan said. “We understand that his play will pick up as he plays

more. Right now, we’re a little behind the eight ball because he’s

coming off an injury and hasn’t played for two years. We have to have

patience and confidence that he’ll get to that level.”

That potential change may seem even stranger given the injury to

Speights, who suffered a partial tear of the MCL in his left knee in

Chicago and will miss six to eight weeks. Speights was averaging 13.0

points and 6.4 rebounds in 23 minutes.

The Sixers were already among the league’s 10-worst rebounding clubs (40.0 per game) prior to Speights’ injury.

Received 11/17/09 01:31 pm ET