Raptors hold off Bobcats

Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin collides with Raptors guard Jose Calderon at the Air Canada Centre in...

Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin collides with Raptors guard Jose Calderon at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., April 3, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:09 PM ET

TORONTO - With so much uncertainty hovering over the Raptors, so much to be done in so short a time, there is one area that should never be questioned.

No one knows what the future holds for a team with cap space and a roster that will add a lottery pick in the coming months, but the future must involve Dwane Casey.

Anyone who watches any game, especially at home and regardless of the quality of Toronto’s opponent, can’t help but be impressed at the way Casey goes about his business.

If his players remotely approached every tip the way Casey approaches every possession, the Raptors wouldn’t be life and death when a team such as Charlotte pays a visit to the Air Canada Centre.

In Chicago, there’s much angst as to why the Bulls have yet to extend Tom Thibodeau, the NBA’s reigning coach of the year who took his team to the Eastern final last spring before losing to Miami.

In Toronto, there’s no chatter about Casey’s extension when there should be as Casey continues to prove his worth and his impact on a team that is more D-league than NBA-ready against an equally inept Bobcats side.

In fact, he’s making such a case that the Raptors should lock him up well beyond next season as more legitimate pieces are assembled.

Stability has been so fleeting in Raptorland in what seems like an eternity that a known commodity in Casey simply must be locked up for good.

Give him a five-year deal and send a message that a culture that demands defence will always be adhered to and enforced.

In Casey, the Raptors have finally found a guy players league-wide respect.

In time, when the necessary parts are acquired or in some cases developed from within, the Raptors may actually be relevant again.

But it starts with Casey and the quicker the Raptors ensure his long-term status, the better off the club will be.

In contrast, Paul Silas had the look of a guy who has seen enough.

And judging by the lack of depth on the Bobcats, it’s easy to see why Silas occasionally asks his son, Stephen, to serve as the designated head coach.

There were stretches Tuesday night when not a single player on the court belonged on any starting unit in the NBA.

At no point did any team lead by as many as 10 points on a night the Raptors would lead 71-64 after three quarters.

It would be an evening that would see DeMar DeRozan get called for a rare technical, an obvious show of frustration as Toronto’s third-year wing still gets no respect.

It would be a night when Linas Kleiza stepped up by coming off the bench to provide the Raptors with some much-needed offence.

It also was a night that saw the Raptors produce four offensive rebounds on one possession.

Even with the Raptors poised to take control in the final period, the home side couldn’t create the separation necessary to take the will out of the Bobcats, whose two wins in a seven-win season entering Tuesday have come against Toronto.

With two minutes left, the Raptors were clinging to a two-point lead, 81-79.

It would be a one-point game, 85-84, with one minute remaining.

But it was far from compelling basketball, competitive only because neither team was any good.

It would end with the Raptors winning 92-87 to end a six-game losing streak to Charlotte.

Bargnani led all scorers with 30 points, while DeRozan scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half.

One of the night’s best players was Charlotte’s Byron Mullens, who posted a career-high rebounding effort (14) to complement his team-high 20 points.

One of the most subtle moves Casey made was late when he inserted Amir Johnson for defence on a possession that would turn into a Bobcats air ball.

Gary Forbes, who has emerged as a decent piece coming off the bench for Toronto, was unavailable for Charlotte’s visit because of a sore left knee.

Forbes is listed as day to day and will likely be a game-time decision for Wednesday’s tip in Philadelphia.

With word that Sonny Weems is back in Toronto to get treatment on a sprained foot, the Raptors can use Weems, but he’s not on the roster and remains a restricted free agent after playing in Lithuania, leaving the country when proper rehab could not be secured.

In the next few days, the Raptors will have to decide whether Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson have done enough to extend their 10-day deals.

Uzoh was the first player off Casey’s bench on Tuesday, looking a little more comfortable in his surroundings, but he’s far from a finished product at the point.

As for the actual game, what else can be expected when two teams with a combined win total of 25 gather in front of a sparse gathering.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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