CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- As if the Charlotte Bobcats didn't have enough challenges already, life without D.J. Augustin has raised the bar a healthy notch.
It wasn't like the Bobcats were tearing it up with Augustin running the point, but at least they had a semblance of rhythm on offense at times. During Tuesday's 111-78 home loss to the New York Knicks, the Bobcats were basically a jump-shooting squad, when they actually got shots off.
Charlotte was whistled for two shot clock violations, and on three other possessions it missed wild shots attempted just before the clock expired. Two were air balls.
Bobcats coach Paul Silas said there was plenty of blame to go around, not just on not having Augustin or his replacement, rookie Kemba Walker.
"Not only because of him, I think because of everybody," the coach said. "Open shots we weren't shooting. Turning the ball over. My philosophy is if you're open shoot the basketball, but we weren't doing that tonight."
Augustin, who is out at least a few more games with a big toe injury, had led Charlotte (3-15) in scoring in five of its first 17 contests. A capable penetrator from the point, who is also quite adept at knocking down pull-up jumpers in the lane, Augustin created scoring opportunities for teammates even if he wasn't credited with an assist on particular possessions.
Walker, who was inserted into the starting lineup about 10 days ago, struggled Tuesday. He finished with 22 points, and was actually quite impressive in one first-half stretch where he scored 13 of Charlotte's 17 points, as a 12-9 deficit turned into a 28-26 lead.
Otherwise, Walker, who had just two assists and four turnovers, just didn't get the ball to mates in position to score. The Bobcats' inside game was nonexistent. No interior player scored more than six points. And overall, Charlotte's 10 assists on a night New York totaled 26 illustrates the immense struggle this was for the home team.
Silas said not having opening night starters Corey Maggette and D.J. White, both of whom are out with injuries, didn't help matters, either.
"I can't put it all on these guys," Silas said. "If you take four quality players off any team in this league, you'll see what they can do. And basically that's what we have; four of our best players off this ballclub. When they're here, we're going to be a better tea because talent is what wins in this league."
Walker entered the contest averaging 11.4 points and 3.2 assists per game, but had been averaging 14.7 points and 3.8 assists over the previous five games. And as soon as he was getting comfortable in that new role, Augustin went down.
The former Connecticut star, who led the Huskies to improbable runs last spring to capture the big East Tournament championship and then the NCAA title, was selected because Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan saw the competitiveness inside Walker that reminded him of himself. The greatest NBA player ever zeroed in on him from the get go.
The 6-foot-1 Walker has done a solid job playing alongside Augustin, but he's not ready to lead an NBA offense, especially one with limited scoring options. That's how a team loses by 33 on a night Knocks' star Carmelo Anthony scored just a single point.
"We didn't come out ready to play," Bobcats center Byron Mullens said. "Carmelo scores one point and we still get beat by 30. It's uncalled for and makes us look bad. I know we're a young team, but there's no excuses for getting beat by 30 when their main player scores one point. It's a bad night."
Yeah, a really bad night.