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Pacers' Augustin, a starter in Charlotte, adjusting to role as reserve point guard


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INDIANAPOLIS

The starter’s mentality D.J. Augustin arrived here with in July is no accident.

In the 282 games Augustin played in during four seasons as a Charlotte Bobcat, slightly more than half earned the 6-foot guard a spotlight introduction before home games. The percentage jumps drastically when factoring

in Augustin’s stellar high school basketball career and his two seasons as a Texas Longhorn.

Sitting has never been Augustin’s strong suit. However, as a member of a playoff-bound franchise for the first time in his NBA career, Augustin even having passed the midpoint of the 82-game regular season continues to grow into his new role.

“It’s been different. It’s been an adjustment,” said Augustin, who has come off the bench to spare either George Hill or Paul George in 41 of Indiana’s 49 games. “But I’m playing for a winning organization. The atmosphere is different. Home games are pretty intense, and the fans are really into it.”

Augustin, whose pass-first, shoot-second mindset dates back to his days of leading Brother Martin High School in New Orleans to consecutive state championships, has played as few as six minutes and as many as 37 in a game this season.

Overall, his averages are 16.3 minutes, 4.8 points and 2.4 assists, numbers down significantly from his four-year run in Charlotte (27.0 minutes, 10.9 points and 4.6 assists). He’s been part of the starting rotation on three occasions, easily a departure from the norm for someone who started all 82 Bobcats games in 2010-11 and 46 of 48 just a year ago.

Yet since scoring 17 points and dealing six assists in the Pacers’ 88-83 defeat of Memphis on Dec. 31, Augustin’s role has expanded. The 2013 calendar year thus far has meant on average more minutes (20.1), points (5.5) and opportunities to showcase his skills for a team that is 12-6 over this stretch.

“He’s been great,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “D.J. struggled early on, but he’s had nothing but a fantastic attitude and work ethic.”

Making the transition from starter to backup is by no means the most difficult life event Augustin has faced in his 25 years.

In the midst of Hurricane Katrina’s deadly assault on New Orleans in August 2005 came the relocation of the Augustin family to the Houston area. D.J., which stands for Darryl (his father’s name) Jr., attended — and played basketball for — Fort Bend Hightower High School in the Houston suburb of Missouri City before returning to New Orleans in the spring to receive his diploma from Brother Martin.

Augustin came back to Texas for two memorable seasons as a Longhorn and was named a Freshman All-American after averaging 14.4 points and 6.7 assists in 2006-07. By the time the following season had concluded, Augustin already ranked 18th on Texas’ career scoring chart (1,234 points), fifth in assists (452), fourth in 3-point percentage (.402) and ninth in free-throw accuracy (.808).

It should be noted that Augustin, an education major in college, became only the 15th player in NCAA history to be named both a first-team All-American and Academic All-American the same season (2007-08).

Quite the journey for someone so young. Augustin, who last summer signed for one season with the Pacers, hopes the stay is extended.

“When I was in Charlotte, I knew the Pacers were a hard-nosed team. I love it here. The people are great,” said Augustin, whose 10 points in Tuesday night’s home victory against Atlanta marked the seventh time this season he’s finished in double-figures.

“I just try to be ready. When you’re coming off the bench, you have to be loose and have the right attitude. It’s about the team and not yourself.”

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