Raptors rally falls short against Bobcats

Bobcats small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (left) calls a timeout while fighting for a loose ball...

Bobcats small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (left) calls a timeout while fighting for a loose ball with Raptors power forward Chuck Hayes during the first half for their game in Charlotte on Monday afternoon. (Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:14 PM ET

CHARLOTTE - The Raptors got some redemption for one of the team’s most horrific 24-minute spans of the season, but couldn’t pull off a miracle comeback Monday.

It isn’t often that 33% shooting by a team in half is a secondary problem. But the Raptors declined to play any semblance of quality defence in the opening half against the Bobcats, a familiar nemesis. And despite a crazy Toronto comeback, Charlotte escaped with a 98-92 win, dropping the Raptors to 20-20.

Whether a decent squad — which is the case this year — or a laughingstock as in year’s past, the Bobcats play like contenders at home whenever Toronto pays a visit.

Toronto last won here back in March of 2010 (seven games ago) and has now dropped 11-of-14 vs. the once sad-sack outfit. Charlotte’s no slouch in 2013-14, ranking seventh in the NBA in defensive rating (Toronto sits sixth, yet didn’t show why until shutting things down in the fourth quarter).

Toronto closed to within one point after falling behind by 30 in the third quarter, but Kyle Lowry couldn’t hit a free throw to tie it after nailing a circus shot with 25.9 seconds remaining and the Bobcats iced it at the line to move back into the playoff picture at 18-25.

Al Jefferson dominated with 22 points and 19 rebounds, coming a rebound shy of becoming the second opponent to notch a 20-20 game against these Raptors this week.

Like against the Celtics, Valanciunas struggled massively, getting soundly outplayed by Jefferson to the point that he had to be removed for the second straight game.

Lowry had 21 points, DeMar DeRozan 25, though he made a crucial turnover late as he again struggled in the clutch.

Greivis Vasquez (15 points, nine assists, seven rebounds) and Chuck Hayes (12 points, 13 rebounds) were superb in the comeback effort, along with Patrick Patterson and Steve Novak.

Charlotte, the league’s third-worst scoring team, shot 49.2% even without leading scorer Kemba Walker, including 57.1% in the first quarter, largely on the strength of 16 points in the paint.


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