CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Back in North Carolina and on the floor again after a long, frustrating layoff, Tyler Hansbrough performed as if he was back in college.
His clutch play helped spoil the home opener for another ex-North Carolina star, Michael Jordan.
Hansbrough’s impressive performance, combined with Danny Granger’s 33 points, led the Indiana Pacers to a 104-101 comeback victory over Charlotte on Friday night that dropped the Jordan-owned Bobcats to an 0-2 start.
With Jordan sitting at the end of Charlotte’s bench and fellow Hall of Famer and Pacers president Larry Bird in the fourth row behind Indiana’s, their teams staged a dramatic fourth quarter that featured an unlikely star.
Hansbrough, who led North Carolina to a national championship but was injured for most of his rookie season, hit a key jumper, grabbed a clutch rebound and hit two free throws with 10.7 seconds left.
Not bad for a guy who appeared in only 29 games last season and didn’t see the floor in Indiana’s season-opening loss to San Antonio. He also is working on his fitness following a bout with vertigo.
“It felt great. I wouldn’t have it any other place,” said Hansbrough, who had 12 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. “Coming here, I was able to step in and help my team win.”
After Hansbrough grabbed Tyrus Thomas’ miss and hit two free throws, D.J. Augustin and Stephen Jackson missed tying 3-point attempts for Charlotte. Jackson clanged an open look from the top of the key as time expired in a disappointing home opener for the Bobcats.
“I owe my team one. I’ve got to make that,” said Jackson, who had 10 points but missed nine of 13 attempts against his former team. “The coach grew up two great plays at the end of the game. He put us in great position to send the game into overtime or win it. We’ve just got to execute better and knock down those shots.”
Gerald Wallace led Charlotte with 29 points, but was unhappy with his six missed free throws, including one with 1:22 left that would have tied it.
“I let them down tonight,” Wallace said. “I missed a lot of free throws that obviously could have been the difference in the game.”
Granger hit six of 11 3-pointers before fouling out in the final minute. He helped Indiana rally from an 11-point first-half deficit with 13 points in the fourth.
His absence further jumbled the lineup for Pacers coach Jim O’Brien. He used Hansbrough ahead of Josh McRoberts at power forward and T.J. Ford at point guard with Darren Collison struggling through a 2-for-10 shooting night.
“T.J. played with a fire,” O’Brien said. “We put the ball in his hands and he made good decisions. Tyler gave us a spark in the first half and then the second. They both had great tenacity.”
The Pacers, who trailed for most of the game, took a 100-98 lead on Roy Hibbert’s two free throws with 1:28 left. Hansbrough then drilled a baseline jumper with 1:04 remaining to make it 102-99.
Granger fouled out on the next possession, but the Bobcats committed six turnovers to Indiana’s none in the fourth quarter.
Augustin had 17 points and six assists for Charlotte, but was just 5 of 14 from the field and had four turnovers as replaces Raymond Felton at point guard.
“We have to figure out a way to not keep turning the ball over,” coach Larry Brown said.
It wasn’t the way Jordan wanted to begin his first full season as owner as he starts to put his stamp on the team.
He sat at the end of the bench wearing a T-shirt which read “Win as One,” the team motto this season. An advertisement for his new video game was played during an early timeout, and the team overhauled the team store to feature Jordan Brand items. Old Jump Man posters were given away as part of a promotion.
But his team showed flaws down the stretch despite a 45-34 rebounding advantage. It included an inability to keep Hansbrough, who set an NCAA record with 982 made free throws, off the line.
“I made a lot of them in college,” Hansbrough said, “so it felt good to knock those down tonight.”
NOTES: Augustin was hit with a fourth-quarter technical foul under the league’s strengthened no-complaining rule. … Brown said C Kwame Brown (ankle) has started to work out some. He missed the entire preseason. … NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin flew back to Charlotte after practice earlier Friday at Talladega to take in the game from his courtside seat.