Bobcats 99, Hawks 66

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan insists his Charlotte Bobcats should be better than last season. They finished the preseason looking the part.

With the owner watching from his courtside seat, Stephen Jackson scored 21 points and the Bobcats overwhelmed the weary Atlanta Hawks 99-66 on Friday night to close the exhibition schedule with four straight victories.

Seven other players scored at least nine points for the Bobcats (4-4), who weren't threatened after a 15-1 run to start the second quarter.

The Hawks (2-5) showed little life a night after a high-intensity win over Miami and they rested starting point guard Mike Bibby. Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Al Horford added 12 for Atlanta, which shot 32 percent and watched Joe Johnson go scoreless in 16 minutes.

In a rare interview before the game, Jordan said that despite losing point guard Raymond Felton in free agency and trading away Tyson Chandler to free up salary-cap space, he's confident the Bobcats can improve on last season's 44-38 team that was swept by Orlando in the first round of the playoffs.

Jordan, beginning his first full season as majority owner, reasons the Bobcats finally have a "good, significant, successful core" after making nine trades since Larry Brown took over as coach before the 2008-09 season.

"We chose not to make this major overhaul of our team," Jordan said. "We think that's going to give us some added success early."

So the Hall of Famer later told a group of season ticket-holders, "At the minimum, we should make the playoffs."

Jackson, the final piece to allow Charlotte to make the playoffs last season after he was acquired from Golden State, hit seven of 11 shots and added eight rebounds. Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas scored 12 points apiece. D.J. Augustin, replacing Felton, added 10 points and five assists.

"Not too many questions about that now, huh?" Jackson said of Augustin. "He's been playing so well."

They were too much for Atlanta in a sour ending to new coach Larry Drew's preseason as he inherits a 53-win team.

"We didn't bring energy, any sense of urgency," Drew said. "That's totally, totally unacceptable."

A night after taking down the Heat, Atlanta faded after the first quarter. With Bibby dressed but not playing and Maurice Evans not making the trip to rest a sore knee, the Hawks committed 23 turnovers.

Johnson, who scored 27 points against Miami, took only two shots and committed three fouls.

Jeff Teague, who's been trying to unseat Bibby, got the start but had just eight points on 4-of-14 shooting with three assists and six turnovers.

"We can't use playing last night against a good Miami Heat ballclub as an excuse," Drew said. "We're paid to come out every single night to compete and leave it all out on the floor. We didn't do that."

The Bobcats outscored the Hawks 31-10 in the second quarter and 30-15 in the third, a positive way to go into a four-day break before Wednesday's regular-season opener at Dallas.

"I think we'll be a little bit better in the beginning of the season," Jordan said, "which will cultivate, hopefully, into a better season."

Brown said he expects backup point guard Shaun Livingston to be ready for the opener after he missed all of the preseason with knee pain. Brown was less certain about Gerald Henderson, who sat out Friday with left knee tendinitis.