It has been a trying season for Williams. A murder suspect was arrested last month after he had been at Williams' home. Earlier in the season, Williams pleaded guilty to driving without ever having received a license, and he served a three-game suspension.
On top of that, he had been benched for the past five games. He had played only 6 minutes against Charlotte before the fourth quarter, but shot 5-for-7 from the field in the final period.
Williams said the strong game was a welcome change.
"Feels like it's been a long time coming for me, you know, going through problems," he said. "I'm just trying to work my way up in the rotation."
Williams got his chance because Danny Granger, Indiana's leading scorer, missed the game with a sprained right wrist. Granger had started all but one game this season.
Williams said coach Jim O'Brien did himself a favor by keeping him in the game.
"He saw that I had the hot hand and went to me a couple times," he said. "That's good coaching on his part."
O'Brien appreciated Williams' effort.
"Shawne Williams was great for us," O'Brien said. "Sometimes, it's good for someone to watch from the sidelines. We would not have won this game without Shawne."
Flip Murray scored 22 points and Troy Murphy added 18 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana.
Jason Richardson had 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Matt Carroll added 18 points for the Bobcats in their fifth straight loss.
The Bobcats were within a point in the closing minutes, but never got the lead.
"It's very frustrating, but it's a script we've seen a lot," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "We've had a lot of close games -- we get them to one point, we get them to overtime -- and we don't come up with the win."
The Bobcats took possession trailing 98-95 with 24 seconds left after an Indiana turnover. Charlotte's Raymond Felton drove to the basket, but Indiana's Jeff Foster blocked his shot, and the ball went off a Charlotte player.
Indiana's Mike Dunleavy was fouled, and he made two free throws with 17 seconds left to give the Pacers a 100-95 lead.
Richardson missed a 3-pointer, and Williams made two free throws at the other end to finish the scoring.
Charlotte led 53-46 at halftime, but Indiana started the second half hot and tied it at 64 on a turnaround in the lane by Kareem Rush.
Murray scored 14 points in the period to help Indiana take a 75-68 lead into the fourth.
"I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to get us back into the game," Murray said. "We didn't want them to run away with it, so I tried to be aggressive and get some easy baskets."
A 3-pointer by Williams made it 78-68, then Williams drove the lane and dunked hard over Jared Dudley to make it 80-68. Williams said he had planned to have a highlight-reel moment.
"I told somebody on the bench I'm feeling good," he said. "I'm feeling fresh right now. I'm going to catch me somebody today. I usually don't even usually say that because I really don't go for dunking like that."
Charlotte went nearly 9 minutes without a field goal in a stretch that lasted from the middle of the third quarter to the early part of the fourth. The Pacers outscored Charlotte 19-4 during that span.
Those kinds of runs by opponents have frustrated Vincent all season. And, while Indiana's win keeps the Pacers in the playoff picture, Charlotte isn't thinking about the postseason.
"We've already stopped talking about the playoffs because we don't want to be looking all the way down to such a big picture," Vincent said. "We're trying to go into every game, play hard and see where that takes us."
Indiana held its second straight opponent under 100 points after allowing triple digits each game since the All-Star break. Williams said maintaining the increased defensive intensity will be the only way the Pacers can reach the postseason.
"It's the end of the season," he said. "We know what we need to do to win. We're almost there. We're steadily trying to turn that corner. If we just defend, even a little bit, we should win."
Dunleavy scored 12 points on 2-for-12 shooting after tying a career high with 36 points Monday night. ... Williams was called for a technical foul for taunting after dunking on Dudley. Williams yelled while standing over Dudley, who was knocked over on the drive. ... Dunleavy hit a shot from near halfcourt at the end of the first half, but it came just after the buzzer sounded and didn't count.