The Toronto Raptors took on the Charlotte Bobcats last night at the ACC in a battle of lottery bound teams. Each team came in with single digit win totals and riding losing streaks, one of which was of a whopping 16 games. Sounds like can't miss action right? That's what we thought and that is why The HQ was on site to take in all of the exciting action.
Standing in the visitors' locker room trying to listen as Kemba Walker discusses the Bobcats 98-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors proved to be a rather challenging venture.
This seemingly simple task was made more difficult than one might imagine by two things--the first being that Walker was speaking in a rather low tone for a guy that had just played a great second half, helping his team to a much needed victory. The second was that the sound of the soft spoken guard's voice was being over powered by the sounds of shouting and laughter emanating from the remaining Bobcat players in the locker room.
And rightfully so, considering that they had just snapped a 16-game losing streak by pulling out their first win since January 14th and just their 4th of the season.
The excitement of this win was not lost on Walker either; who had 14 points and 8 assists off of the bench in the winning effort.
"It feels great, honestly," Kemba Walker said of the win. "Even though it's only our fourth win, it's just a win. A win is a win. It's been a while. We're overdue. We came in, played tough and pulled it out."
Fellow rookie Bismack Biyombo had a career high 13 rebounds and 7 blocks, giving Raptors fans a glimpse of what could have been had he been selected by the Dinos with the fifth pick in last year's draft.
"Right now, my job is to rebound the ball and help my team on defense" Byombo said after the game. "Guys, they just didn't give up, they kept coming with good energy and worked as hard as they can"
The Bobcats also got a huge lift from Reggie Williams who dropped a season-high 22 points and D.J Augustin who had a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists. Augustin's ability to get to the bucket wreaked havoc on the Raptors' defensive rotations, particularly in the second half.
Even with the win, the Bobcats are still the worst team in the league--yet, for one night they deserve to enjoy a hard earned victory, of which there is never a guarantee in a league as competitive as the NBA.
While the story is all rainbows and gumdrops for the Bobcats, the same cannot be said for the Raptors who, in losing to the Bobcats, have now lost 4 straight and 7 of their last 8 games with this most recent loss being perhaps the lowest point of the season.
The Raptors jumped out to an early 10-4 lead and actually looked like they might take care of business with relative ease, but that hope soon dissipated as the Dinos' lackluster defense allowed the Bobcats to close that gap by outworking them, and as a result the Raptors took just a one point lead into the second quarter.
DeMar DeRozan looked primed to dominate this game, scoring 13 of his 26 points in the first quarter thanks to some hot shooting. But his focus seemed to drift at times, and he was virtually nonexistent in the second half. Particularly alarming was his lack of production in other areas of the game; DeRozan tallied 2 steals, 0 rebounds and 0 assists in 32 minutes of play.
Despite the Raptors' poor play, this game was up for grabs for the majority of its duration. In the end it came down to whoever wanted it more and on this night, it was the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats opened the fourth with an 11-2 run which gave them an 8 point lead at the time, a lead that the Raptors cut into, but could not take back before the final buzzer sounded.
The loss came on a night where the Raptors were flat, and did not get much help from their home crowd. The reported attendance was 15,575 but it seemed like much less. The fans that were in attendance were much more enthused by the entertainment provided for them during timeouts rather than that which was provided between timeouts. Needless to say, the energy level in the building wasn't great, but at least the fans were happy to see Naughty By Nature perform at halftime.
Although the Raptors weren't particularly strong on the offensive or defensive side of the basketball, it is worth mentioning that they did do a good job of rebounding the ball. Amir Johnson set a new career-high with 15 rebounds, Ed Davis added 10, James Johnson grabbed 8 rebounds and Aaron Gray finished with 7-a true team rebounding effort that we haven't seen out of these guys in quite a while.
Toronto will have plenty of time to step back and prepare for their next game Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons. If T.O is serious about coming away with the W in that game, it would benefit them to take another look at how the Bobcats played against them last night and play with that same type of energy on Wednesday evening.