Good thing, because the Charlotte Bobcats may need extended minutes and major contributions from both players after getting sobering news about starting shooting guard Raja Bell following a 94-87 exhibition victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
Coach Larry Brown began his postgame news conference by announcing that Bell had a partially torn ligament in his left wrist and may undergo surgery. If so, he could be out up to four months.
"It's something you don't weigh lightly," said Bell, who will get a second opinion before deciding whether to try to play through the injury. "We're trying to figure out what the best course of action is going to be for me personally. And obviously I've got a responsibility to the Bobcats."
Augustin started for Bell and had 15 points, while Henderson added 14 on 7-of-8 shooting as Bell's injury overshadowed Tyson Chandler's preseason debut with the Bobcats.
Charlotte (2-5) snapped a four-game losing streak despite getting little from Chandler, who had four points and two rebounds in 16 minutes in his first game following offseason ankle surgery. Chandler's acknowledged he's nowhere near being in game shape.
"I was expecting it, though. That's the first time I got up and down the court in six months," said Chandler, acquired in July from New Orleans for Emeka Okafor.
Chandler, though, was more concerned about Bell, the team's defensive stopper who was injured Sunday trying to grab a loose ball against Utah.
"We need a guy like that and a guy with great character," Chandler said. "Anytime a guy like that goes down I think everybody kind of feels his pain."
Rookie Brandon Jennings shook off a slow start to finish with 14 points, eight assists and four turnovers in his second straight start for the Bucks (3-4), while Andrew Bogut had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee couldn't recover from an early 15-point deficit.
"I think we were just out of sync tonight," Jennings said. "The first half, you would have thought we were down by 30."
Augustin, in his second strong game after scoring 29 points Sunday against Utah, shot 6 of 12 from the field with three assists while producing some early headaches for Jennings.
The 20-year-old Jennings, the 10th pick in the draft who played in Italy last season, had recorded 19 assists in his last two games. But he committed two turnovers in a 1-minute span in the first quarter, the second coming on Augustin's steal and layup and earning Jennings a seat on the bench.
Vladimir Radmanovic hit a 3-pointer and two free throws in a 10-0 run to start the second quarter as Charlotte built a 35-20 lead.
"He's got a ways to go on the defensive end," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of Jennings. "He's getting screened all the time. ... But he's making progress."
Jennings recovered in the second half, scoring on consecutive pull-up jumpers as the Bucks got within 65-63.
But Charlotte pulled away in the fourth quarter. Augustin's pretty crossover move started the surge, causing Roko Ukic's knees to wobble as he blew by for an easy layup. Stephen Graham and Boris Diaw followed with 3-pointers and Charlotte led 90-74 with 6:05 left.
With the news earlier Tuesday that the NBA's regular referees plan to vote on a new labor proposal this week that could end the lockout, replacement referees Robbie Robinson, Kevin Sparrock and Art Vaulk called 53 fouls and drew the ire of Skiles.
Vaulk hit Skiles with a technical foul -- his third of the preseason -- after he ran up the court to protest what he felt was a missed foul call on Bogut's hook shot in the second quarter.
"That was a foul!" Skiles yelled, as he remained at midcourt for several seconds before returning to the bench.
Brown, hit with $60,000 in fines after being ejected from a game last week, was mostly quiet. Perhaps he was pondering playing most of the season without Bell.
"I hope Raja gets healthy as soon as he can," Henderson said. "I had a similar injury when I was in college and I was faced with the same kind of decisions he's faced with now. I just hope that he gets healthy as soon as he can and we'll be fine."
The teams combined for 47 turnovers, 26 by Charlotte. ... Bucks F Joe Alexander (strained right hamstring) did not travel and has yet to play in the preseason.
- Robbie Robinson
- Kevin Sparrock
- Art Vaulk