Raptors 93, Bobcats 76
Bosh, who missed his first five shots and didn’t score until midway through the third quarter, dominated the inside after Charlotte lost Okafor to a strained left calf in the third quarter.
“It was a difference, but what happened was inevitable,” Bosh said. “I was going to size (Okafor) up a little more. He did a good job on me in the first half and I got into foul trouble. But eventually I’m going to find a way to get it done.”
With Bosh finding his rhythm and Okafor done for the night, the Bobcats had no chance.
“The only guy we probably have that can stop him one-on-one is Emeka,” Bobcats guard Matt Carroll said. “That’s probably our best chance. With him not in the game, that’s pretty tough.”
But it got worse for the Bobcats. Leading scorer Gerald Wallace also left in the third quarter with a strained groin and Charlotte quickly wilted as it snapped its team record-tying four-game winning streak.
“We really wanted that (fifth straight win). We just had some unexpected occurrences happen,” said Okafor, who complained his calf was “super tight” after the game.
Carroll and Adam Morrison scored 13 points apiece and Wallace had 12 before leaving for Charlotte, which had topped 100 points in each of its last four games.
“I was running down the court and it felt like my groin went out. Ever since then it was like constant pain,” Wallace said. “The doctors decided I was favoring it too much. They didn’t want me to risk hurting it more.”
Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff returned after missing the final three quarters of Charlotte’s win over Philadelphia on Friday night with flu-like symptoms. He played Eric Williams for the first time since he was acquired in a trade nearly two weeks ago. Little-used Walter Herrmann and Hollins also saw significant time.
“They say a drowning man will grab a razor blade,” Bickerstaff said.
But the Bobcats’ biggest problem was guarding Bosh. Plagued by foul trouble in the first half, didn’t score until his half-hook with 7:38 left in the third quarter put Toronto ahead 52-45.
His jump shot with 3:31 left made it 61-50 as he had his way with Charlotte’s backup big men. Bosh scored the first five points of the fourth quarter in an 8-0 run to give Toronto a 76-59 lead. The Raptors led by as many as 21 points after that.
“Coming in here on a back-to-back, not having a chance to prepare for them and being on the road, our guys did a nice job,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. “All those guys that came off the bench gave us a spark.”
While both teams came in on hot streaks, you wouldn’t have known it in the first half. Charlotte fell behind 9-0 in the first 3 minutes, but then the Raptors went more than 6 minutes without a field goal in the Bobcats’ 14-1 run.
Bosh picked up two quick fouls and played only 9 minutes in the first half, going scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting.
Charlotte wasn’t much better. Felton was 0 for 8 from the field and the Bobcats missed six of 13 free throws as Toronto took a 44-41 halftime lead.
Bickerstaff said he underwent a series of tests early in the day and doctors ruled he was well enough to coach. “It’s hard to hurt dirt,” the 62-year-old Bickerstaff said. … The Bobcats were scheduled to fly to Los Angeles after the game and begin a six-game road trip Monday against the Clippers while their arena hosts the CIAA college basketball tournament. … Raptors G Juan Dixon, in his first game with Toronto after being acquired Thursday from Portland, failed to score and missed all three shots in 16 minutes.