Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bobcats hold off Raptors

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Al Jefferson sat at his locker pondering how the Charlotte Bobcats nearly surrendered a 30-point lead they held late in the third quarter.
“Of course we had to make it a game,” Jefferson said with a grin.

“We couldn’t enjoy an easy win, right?”
It never seems that easy for the Bobcats.
Despite the big lead, Jefferson and Bobcats didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until Ramon Sessions knocked down two free throws with 1.6 seconds left to secure a 100-95 victory over the Toronto Raptors yesterday.
Jefferson became the first Bobcats’ player to record a double-double in the first quarter and finished with 22 points, 19 rebounds, and a season-high seven assists as the Bobcats defeated the Raptors for the seventh-straight time in Charlotte.
“The important thing is we came out of it with a win,” Jefferson said after the Bobcats withstood a furious Toronto rally that included several three-pointers.
It was Charlotte’s first game without point guard Kemba Walker, whose streak of 190-straight games played—the second-longest in franchise history—was snapped.
Walker sprained his ankle in a loss Saturday night to the Miami Heat.
But the Bobcats got more than enough from their two reserve point guards as Sessions and the seldom-used Jannero Pargo combined for 40 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
Sessions started and had 23 points in 34 minutes, and was 10-of-11 from the line.
“We knew they were going to make a run sooner or later, especially with how good they’ve been playing,” Sessions noted.
“We didn’t expect it to be that big of a run.”
DeMar DeRozan had 25 points while Kyle Lowry added 21 for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors, who fell back to .500 after their fourth-straight road loss.
The Raptors were down 71-41 with 4:37 left in the third quarter when they started to find some energy.
They outscored the Bobcats 28-0 on second-chance points, but it still wasn’t enough.
Toronto twice had chances to tie the game in the final two minutes but Lowry missed a free throw and Greivis Vasquez couldn’t connect on a long three-pointer.
“To be a championship team or even think about the playoffs, you’ve got to play back-to-back, you have to play nicked up, you’ve got to play a little fatigued,” stressed Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey.
“Right now, we have a bunch of guys who are giving into fatigue and nicked up,” he noted.

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