[January 21, 2014]CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte
Bobcats have yet to develop much killer instinct, but they got away with
it on Monday afternoon.
They watched a 30-point, second-half lead dwindle to one, but
regrouped in time to pull out a 100-95 win over the Toronto Raptors.
Guard Ramon Sessions scored 23 points and hit four free throws in
the final 23.9 seconds, as the Bobcats completed a three-game season
sweep over the Raptors and extended their winning streak over the
Raptors in Charlotte to seven games.
The Bobcats led 71-41 with 4:37 left in the third quarter, but
Toronto outscored them 54-29 the rest of the way and had two chances
to tie in the final minute.
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford chose to look at the positive in the
team's first game without injured point guard and leading scorer
Kemba Walker, who is out for two weeks with a sprained left ankle.
"For our team, that's a real good win," Clifford said. "Playing
without Kemba and having two point guards play really well, that's
very encouraging. They got us on our heels in the fourth quarter,
but give them credit, they're a tough, tough team. It's not easy to
just run all over them."
The Bobcats, who raised their record to 18-25, also got 22 points,
19 rebounds and seven assists from center Al Jefferson.
Jefferson, who has now had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in
each of his last three games, criticized the Bobcats for not keeping
"When you get a 30-point lead, I don't know the reason but no matter
how hard you tell the team, you're going to get relaxed," Jefferson
said. "You're going to get away from what you do. The good teams
don't, but the teams who are still trying to prove themselves like
us, we got relaxed and we stopped getting back on defense. The
rebounding and the second-chance points, that's what we got away
"But when the game was on the line, we got the stops we needed."
Charlotte led 26-11 after one quarter, then pushed the lead to 22 in
the second before settling for a 55-36 lead. The lead then grew to
71-41 before the Raptors chipped it down to 78-60 after three
Ultimately, the Raptors had two chances to tie.
Guard Kyle Lowry hit a jumper and was fouled with 25.9 seconds left
to cut the lead to 93-92, but he missed the free throw that would
have tied it. Then, after Sessions hit two free throws with 23.9
seconds left to push the lead back to three, Toronto guard Greivis
Vasquez missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left.
Guard Gerald Henderson hit a free throw with 14.6 seconds
left and Sessions tacked on two more with 1.6 seconds remaining,
making a 3-pointer by Lowry moot.
Henderson finished with 16 points, and forward Josh McRoberts
and guard Jannero Pargo scored 11 each.
The Bobcats shot 49.2 percent from the field but committed 14
turnovers, including 11 in the second half, and were
"The biggest thing to me is that we can't turn the ball over the
way we did in the second half, and we're going to have to find
other things we can do in the fourth quarter when we can't just
post the ball," Clifford said. "We have to find a balance."
Toronto, which fell to 20-20, has now lost three of its last
Guard DeMar DeRozan led the way with 25 points and Lowry
finished with 21. But the comeback was keyed more by Vasquez,
who finished with 15 points, and forward Chuck Hayes, who
finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
"We had to shoot some threes and open up the court after we got
behind," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "But if you have to do
that, long term, that's not the answer. That's a 911 situation.
We've got to find a start that fits us and find energy at the
beginning of the game in the first two quarters. You can't spot
any team in this league 25 or 30 points and expect to be
NOTES: The Bobcats have hosted an afternoon game on Martn Luther
King Jr. Day in nine of their 10 seasons. ... The Raptors had a
quick turnaround, after losing 112-106 to the Lakers in Toronto
on Sunday. ... Bobcats G Kemba Walker missed the first game of
his career on Monday, after suffering a sprained left ankle
against Miami on Saturday night. He had played in 190 straight
games. He is expected to miss two weeks. ... The Bobcats are
also without F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured Achilles) and C Brendan
Haywood (stress fracture left foot). ... The Raptors came into
the game as the only team in the Atlantic Division with a
winning record. ... The Raptors have the third-best record
(14-8) in the Eastern Conference, behind only Indiana and Miami,
since the seven-player trade that brought G Greivis Vasquez, F
Chuck Hayes and F John Salmons from Sacramento on Dec. 9. ...
The Bobcats will host the Clippers on Wednesday night. ... The
Raptors will return home to face Dallas on Wednesday.