- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - If the Bobcats are going to take a step forward this season they’re going to need some big plays and strong shooting from point guard D.J. Augustin.

So far, so good.

Augustin scored a team-high 19 points in the Bobcats’ 96-95 win over the Bucks in Monday night’s season opener, including a driving layup that put his team ahead for good with 36.5 seconds left.

It was a quality win for the young and rebuilding Bobcats.

But the NBA can be a grind, even in a 66-game season, and Augustin and his teammates know they’ll face a much stiffer test when LeBron James and the Miami Heat come to town on Wednesday night.

“I watched them play on Christmas and they look like they have a chip on their shoulder,” Augustin said. “We know they have a great team, so we have to come in and play hard like we did (against the Bucks).”

Added coach Paul Silas of the Heat: “They’re just so talented it’s unbelievable.”

Silas said he expects to have Augustin available for the game.

Augustin sprained his left ankle in the final minute of Monday night’s game while chasing after a loose ball near midcourt. He’s had problems with the ankle before. He didn’t practice Tuesday but Silas said, “he thinks he might be able to make it (Wednesday) night.”

But the Bobcats have to be careful.

Even with backup Kemba Walker looking like the real deal, the Bobcats need Augustin for the long run.

After a rough start as a rookie, Augustin’s turnaround as a player coincided with the arrival Silas last December.

Under former coach Larry Brown, Augustin was timid and often afraid to shoot. Then Silas arrived.

“Playing for coach Brown, I was looking over my shoulder because I didn’t want to make a mistake,” Augustin said. “He’s still a great coach and taught me a lot of fundamentals. But with coach Silas, he gives you that chance to be free and make plays.”

That was never more evident than in a game last season against Minnesota.

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