Despite losing an hour of sleep and playing a rare matinee game, the Bobcats came out with energy Sunday afternoon and completed the 4 game series sweep of the Raptors with a 95-90 victory. The win slides the Cats back into the 8th and final playoff spot with 16 games remaining on the schedule and ends a 5 game road losing streak. Since Jackson and Tyrus Thomas have returned to the lineup, Charlotte is not surprisingly winning games again.
The Cats played one of their most efficient first halves all year as they paced themselves to a 50-47 lead at the half. Charlotte shot 59% from the floor, including 10-10 from the free throw line and 2-4 on 3-pt shots. The Bobcats aren’t an extremely effective shooting team from deep so it was nice to see to them attacking off the dribble and sharing the ball. In fact, 12 of the 19 field goals in the first half were assisted. DJ Augustin led the way in the first quarter with 9 points and while he was held scoreless in the second quarter, Henderson added 8 of his own in that period to lead the Cats in scoring with 10 points. The only downside in the first half was how poorly we rebounded. The Raptors stayed in the game by dominating the glass, especially on the offensive end. Reggie Evans alone grabbed 7 offensive boards and the Raptors had 13 as a team, which allowed them to keep it close although being clearly outplayed by the Cats.
The second half was a constant cycle of the Cats jumping out to double digit leads followed by Toronto making a run and trimming the lead back to 5 or 6. Augustin had the hot hand early in the 3rd and shot the Cats to a short-lived 13 point lead midway through the quarter. But continued mistakes allowed the Raptors to stay close. The Cats turned it over 17 times, with 10 in the second half, and lost the hustle battle for most of the night. Toronto gathered 16 offensive rebounds total but credit the Bobcats for cleaning that up late in the game and icing this game on the defensive end. We had a difficult time scoring in the last few minutes but managed to force contested shots and grab the rebound. Although Toronto kept coming after us, the Cats did a great job of keeping the lead around 4 or 5 points and not allowing the Raptors to get the ball in a one-possession game.
Picking a TSP Gamebreaker Award isn’t an easy choice today because this game was won with a total team effort. Four players hit double figures, with Cunningham barely missing making it 5 with 8 points of his own. I’ll give a slight lean to DJ Augustin who led the way with 23 points on 8-14 shooting, including a 3-pointer and running floater in the final few minutes to keep a charging Raptors team at arm’s length. In what turned out to be a very physical game, the smallest player on the floor walks away with the hardware.
What’s Next: The Cats get a couple of days off and travel to Houston hoping to sweep the season series on Wednesday night. With back to back road games coming up this weekend against Oklahoma City and San Antonio, this game looks to be the Cats’ best chance to grab another win on this road trip.
Trivia Question: Which 4 players selected in the expansion draft by the Bobcats have also played for the Raptors? This is a 4 point question as well.