NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, December 18th (All times Eastern)
Charlotte Bobcats (11-14) at Toronto Raptors (9-13), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors have played great basketball since trading Rudy Gay and they hope to continue that momentum Wednesday night when they welcome the Charlotte Bobcats to Air Canada Centre.
The Raps are 3-1 since shipping Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings. Toronto has won two straight and Wednesday's contest will be the last one at home until a brutal three-game swing through Dallas, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
On Saturday, the Raptors demolished the Chicago Bulls in the Windy City to the tune of 99-77. Toronto was up seven after three quarters, then stifled the Bulls in the fourth, 26-11.
Kyle Lowry paced five Raptors in double figures with 16 points and Jonas Valanciunas netted 15 points with 11 rebounds and four blocks for Toronto. DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson scored 15 and 14, respectively, while newcomer Patrick Patterson added 12 points.
"Everyone contributed. The bench was huge. We have a bench where guys can come in, hold strong and increase the lead. They were huge in that respect," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
The Raptors' opponents on Wednesday saw the other side of the Gay trade on Tuesday. They buried the Sacramento Kings, 95-87, in Charlotte, but the Kings lost Gay to knee stiffness after just over 24 minutes of action.
The Bobcats, who led by 13 after the first quarter, never trailed in the second half but the game was very much up for grabs early in the fourth quarter, when Jason Thompson's layup cut Charlotte's lead to 80-78.
Out of a timeout, however, Charlotte buckled down defensively and went on an 11-1 run to assume control. Al Jefferson made a pair of field goals during the surge, including a layup with 3:32 remaining to make it 91-79. The Bobcats weren't challenged after that.
"Tonight I think we did a better job of finishing the game," said Gerald Henderson. "Against some of the really good teams we struggle with that, but I think we're getting better at it."
Kemba Walker led the way for Charlotte on Tuesday with 24 points, followed by 20 from Henderson. Ramon Sessions chipped in 16 off the pine and Jefferson had 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Bobcats held the Kings under 38 percent from the field and under 27 percent from long range.
Charlotte has taken two in a row in this series with Toronto, including a 92-90 home victory on Nov. 6. However, the Bobcats have dropped three straight in Toronto.
12/18 10:27:10 ET