Bobcats-Raptors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 02, 2012
The Toronto Raptors have a 10th opportunity this season to win back-to-back home games for the first time since 2010. Even a visit from the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats is no guarantee the Raptors can finally accomplish that feat. Toronto looks to avoid a seventh consecutive loss in this series - and third this season - Tuesday night when the Bobcats go for their first victory since their last meeting with the Raptors. Since winning Dec. 1 and 3, 2010, the Raptors (18-35) have gone 20-38 at Air Canada Centre, failing to win two in a row. The Raptors had great balance in Sunday's 99-92 home win over Washington, with eight players scoring at least eight points, but coach Dwane Casey needs to see a better overall defensive effort. Toronto's last four opponents are averaging 104.5 points on 50.2 percent shooting. "That's going to be our challenge as a staff, to keep tuned defensively the rest of the way and not lose what foundation we have," Casey said. The Bobcats (7-43) could stand in the way of that happening Tuesday. Charlotte is scoring a league-low 87.9 points per game on 41.6 percent shooting - also worst in the NBA - but coach Paul Silas' team has shot at least 50 percent and averaged 102.5 points in two wins over the Raptors this season. The Bobcats could use another effort like that after blowing an eight-point lead in the final two minutes of regulation in Saturday's 110-107 OT loss at Detroit. "We weren't really pushing it as fast as we were the first three quarters," forward Byron Mullens said after scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds. "I think we were stuck on 80 (points) for a while and then they finally got it going, but it's something we learn from. We slowed the ball down. We were up - we just got to keep our foot on the pedal." The Bobcats, losers of seven straight since a 107-103 home win over Toronto on March 17, will have to seriously pick up the pace this month to avoid posting the worst winning percentage in franchise history. The club went 18-64 during its 2004-05 inaugural season. Corey Maggette, the team leader with 37 points against the Raptors this season, will be unavailable Tuesday after suffering a strained right Achilles' in Friday's 99-88 loss to Denver. With Maggette out, swingman Reggie Williams should make a second consecutive start. Williams hit four 3-pointers and scored a season-best 22 points in a 98-91 win at Toronto on Feb. 17. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 24 points in that contest as they dropped their third in a row at home against the Bobcats. Toronto's last victory in this series was 103-101 in Charlotte on March 29, 2010.
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