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Augustin continues to provide a spark
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Mar 11
Winners in six of seven games at home and 11 of 14 overall, it’s been an impressive run for the Chicago Bulls as the stretch run approaches.
While Joakim Noah has garnered some well-deserved national attention with his play, he’s hardly done it alone. Noah is the first to admit as much, so it came as no surprise when he pointed out the job done by D.J. Augustin, who most recently scored a team-high 22 points off the bench in Chicago’s overtime victory against Miami on Sunday.
“D.J. has been playing great basketball,” said Noah. “We wouldn’t be in the position that we are right now if it weren’t for him. He’s playing with confidence and it was big to see him play at that level. It was a pretty big stage and D.J. stepped up huge for us.”
Augustin quickly adapted to Chicago’s system after he was signed on Dec. 13. But he’s perhaps played his best basketball as of late—through five games in March, he’s averaged 20.2 points while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from behind the arc.
“I’m just in the moment, trying to work hard every day, just go out there and try to play hard, play well and do whatever it takes to help the team win,” said Augustin on Friday.
Augustin has also demonstrated the ability to get the job done whether starting or coming off the bench. While his recent hot streak has been as a reserve, he started nine games this season and averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 assists while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 48.3 percent from three-point range.
But it’s clear that when he talks about his current role, it’s one he embraces.
“Whenever I play with the second unit, I always tell my teammates like Tony [Snell] and those guys, ‘When we get in, we’ve got to go hard,’” said Augustin. “Sometimes the starting unit gets the lead for us and we’ve got to keep it going. We can’t let them come back.”
Augustin admits he’s playing with confidence, something that has shown at the free throw line, where he’s connected on 25 in a row and 60 of his last 61 attempts. He leads the NBA in free-throw percentage at 91.7 percent, making 133 of 145 on the season.
Whereas Augustin always knew he was capable, it’s getting a chance to prove it which has helped him help his team. He also credits Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for allowing him to work through situations on the court without the fear of being pulled.
“This is probably the most comfortable I’ve felt in a long time, maybe since my Charlotte days,” said Augustin. “Just getting the opportunity and being out there playing. Thibs gives you a chance to play through mistakes and that helps the players’ confidence.”
Audio—Tom Thibodeau on Tony Snell and working with Gregg Popovich (03.11.2014):
Audio—D.J. Augustin on his role, facing the Spurs and teammate Mike Dunleavy (03.11.2014):