By Seth Lakso
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It took a 15-point outburst by D.J. Augustin in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 89-87 win over the Charlotte Bobcats to secure the Bull’s fourth win in the past five games.
Augustin, who finished the game with a season-high 28 points, went 4-for-5 from the field in the final frame, while knocking down three crucial 3-pointers and two free throws late to seal the win.
Saturday’s performance marked the third time in the last four games that the point guard, who was released by the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 9 and then subsequently signed by the Bulls, has scored 27 or more points.
With Derrick Rose out with a knee injury and Kirk Hinrich sidelined with a hamstring issue, Augustin has certainly made the most of his opportunity.
“He was a huge pickup for us because we had a need with Derrick and Kirk going down,” said Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who played Augustin for a team-high 43 minutes and 51 seconds on Saturday. “(Augustin) had a need as well. So it was good for him and it’s been great for us, and he’s played better and better."
Augustin began his playing career in Charlotte, where he spent four seasons playing for the Bobcats. In his final season in 2011-12, he averaged 11. 1 points and 6.4 assists per game.
“It’s always fun playing against your old team, you know,” said Augustin, who has averaged 12.7 points and 6.1 assists in 22 games sicne joining the Bulls. “I know Gerald (Henderson). I played with him for three years, and just to go back and play against those guys is always fun.”
Asked if there were any hard feelings about the way things ended in Charlotte, Augustin replied, “Not really, it’s a business like. I’m with the Bulls now, and I’m happy to get this win tonight.”
Since playing for Charlotte, Augustin has played for Indiana (in 2012-13) and made 10 appearances for Toronto earlier this season before being let go.
“The one thing that we knew because of the way (Augustin) had played (during his time in Charlotte), was that he was more than capable,” Thibodeau said. “I thought he had a very good year in Indiana last year, even though it was short minutes. For whatever reason, he wasn’t playing in Toronto, and it worked out for us.
“To his credit, he was ready when this opportunity came around, and he hit the ground running,” Thibodeau continued. “It’s not only his individual performance but what he’s doing for our team. He’s running the team real well.”
After scoring just seven points (on 3-of-8 shooting) in the Bulls 112-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Augustin calmly knocked down an open 19-foot jump shot for the Bulls' first two points of the game and never looked back — finishing the night 6-of-12 for behind the arc.
“I just let the game come to me,” he said. “We didn’t change anything (in the fourth quarter). We just kept playing and kept running our pick-and-roll stuff and kept playing our defense, and everything came out well.
“We get knocked down (on Friday), but we always get back up and keep fighting,” Augustin continued. “That’s the motto of our team and that’s what we did tonight, and it’s been working for us.”