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Silas got the Hornets rolling. They later won nine straight and finished 26-24 in a lockout-shortened year, one game shy of making the postseason.

“Turned that thing around, one game out of the playoffs,” Silas said. “Didn’t make it, but then got Baron Davis, which was a big bonus and went on from there.”

Not only did Silas get the interim tag lifted, the Hornets lucked out in the draft lottery to take a franchise point guard No. 3 overall. Silas led the Hornets to three straight playoff appearances and remained one of the few popular figures in Charlotte until the team’s ugly exit to New Orleans in 2002.

Now Silas is trying to duplicate the feat with Charlotte’s new NBA team, which was swept by Orlando in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

“It’s not easy, it’s hard. Players know you’re an interim coach,” Silas said. “But the main thing, as I told them, respect is what it’s all about. I respect them, but certainly they’re going to respect me.”

Silas has toned down what he called a “dictatorial” coaching style when he guided the San Diego Clippers from 1980-1983. He had to wait 16 years for his next head coaching job and now he’s back after a five-year hiatus and with a head of hair that includes plenty of gray.

“I’ll probably be sitting a lot more than I used to,” Silas said, smiling. “You won’t be seeing the sweat coming down like it was.”

The Bobcats still have problems. The offense remains far from efficient and there are depth issues. Silas isn’t close to establishing a rotation and the schedule gets tougher after home games Wednesday against Cleveland and Friday vs. Golden State.

But even though he’s past retirement age, financially secure and living in his dream home, Silas hopes he can do enough to stick around for next season.

“If I needed that job next year I’d be shaking in my boots,” Silas said. “If I don’t get it, great, fine. But I believe I will if these guys do what I think they can do.”

Notes: Wallace went through the entire practice. But while Silas expressed optimism he’ll play against Cleveland, Wallace wasn’t so certain. … F Tyrus Thomas was held out of contact with a sore right wrist, but is expected to play against the Cavaliers.