In an effort to get another shooter on the floor, 76ers coach Doug Collins decided this week to insert guard Jodie Meeks into the starting lineup.
On Saturday at the Well Fargo Center, the move paid off.
Meeks got the Sixers headed toward a 109-91 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats by scoring 20 of his game-high 26 points in the first period.
After making six of seven three-point attempts during the first 12 minutes, Meeks went on to also finish with personal highs in points, field goal attempts (15), field goals made (nine), three-point attempts (10), and three-point baskets (seven).
Meeks' previous high in points was 21, which he had reached three times, most recently against the Miami Heat on Nov. 26.
"My teammates did a good job of finding me open, and I kept letting them fly," said Meeks, who entered the contest averaging 7.3 points per game. "After I hit my first one, I kept making them. Whatever I have to do to get the team started right. Tonight it was scoring."
A crowd of 14,611 saw the Sixers improve to 6-14. Charlotte is now 7-13.
It was the first time this season that the Sixers faced the Bobcats, who are coached by Larry Brown. The former Sixers coach guided his team to a 91-84 win over the New Jersey Nets on Friday. The same night, the Sixers were 93-88 losers at Atlanta after leading, 54-46, at halftime and entering the fourth quarter trailing by five points.
On Saturday, the Sixers were ahead, 56-45, at intermission. This time, they blew the game open with a third quarter run that left the Bobcats trailing, 85-67.
"We lost some tough games on the road, and every time we come home in front of our crowd and play well," said forward Elton Brand, who, along with swingman Andre Iguodala and guard Jrue Holiday, finished with 15 points.
The fans cheered as soon as Meeks took a pass in the left corner from Andre Iguodala, and got louder when he looked down to make sure he was behind the three-point line, and then knocked down another shot to give the Sixers an 81-62 third-quarter lead.
"What can you say about Jodie Meeks," Collins said. "He electrified the crowd and got everybody into the game. "Jodie was brilliant. He was like a flame-thrower out there. It was fun to see our guys looking for him. Jodie gives us another dimension. This gives us another guy we can run screens (with), and he makes us pretty explosive."
The Sixers had an 85-70 advantage with 10:16 showing on the clock, and it was 96-74 with 5:48 remaining. When it was over, forward Thaddeus Young was also in double figures with 20. For Charlotte, forward Boris Diaw and guard Stephen Jackson had 18 points apiece.
The 6-4 Meeks was assigned to guard the 6-8 Stephen Jackson, who was the Bobcats' leading scorer at 18.4 points per game.
Meeks scored 14 points as the Sixers got out to a 26-11 advantage with less than four minutes remaining in the first period. Running along the baseline and popping around a screen, Meeks knocked down three shots from three-point range.
At the other end, Jackson didn't score until he made a 19-foot jumper with 1:50 left in the period. By then, the Bobcats were trailing, 32-13. The Sixers had a 32-16 lead going into the second quarter.
"They had one team playing hard and playing the right way, and you had another team not playing hard and playing the right way," Brown said.
Notes. For the Sixers, Darius Songaila was inactive. DeSagana Diop and Eduardo Najera were healthy scratches for the Bobcats. . . . Before player introductions, there was a moment of silence in memory of Phil Jasner, the long-time Sixers' beat writer for the Daily News who died on Friday.