TORONTO (AP)—One Gerald has moved on, but another player with the same name is helping the Charlotte Bobcats make a push for the playoffs.
Inserted into the starting lineup after Gerald Wallace(notes) was traded to Portland last month, Henderson has come on strong in the nine games since by scoring more than 14 points per game, almost double his season average.
“He’s special, man,” teammate Stephen Jackson(notes) said. “That’s one reason why they traded Gerald Wallace. They want him to play, he’s the future of this franchise. He’s growing at a rapid pace. He’s been big for us this year and he’s the reason we still even have a chance to get to the playoffs after a six game losing streak.”
Augustin echoed Jackson’s compliments of Henderson, a second-year guard from Duke who also had four steals, four rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot against Toronto.
“He’s been stepping up every game,” Augustin said. “He plays hard, he plays defense and he’s knocking down shots and playing with a lot of confidence. We need that.”
“We played really hard and didn’t have any letdowns,” coach Paul Silas said.
Charlotte took some time to settle after the Wallace deal, and struggled while Jackson and Tyrus Thomas(notes) missed time with injuries. Now that both are back, Henderson expects big things from the Bobcats as they battle to hold onto the final playoff berth in the East.
“We have no excuses now,” he said. “We should be shot out of a cannon now because we’ve got all our guys (healthy), we’re playing well and we have something to play for.”
Henderson had plenty to smile about after the win, boosted by news that Duke had beaten North Carolina in the ACC championship game. He said he planned to check in with former Blue Devils teammate Nolan Smith.
“Nolan is like a little brother to me,” Henderson said. “I’ll see how he’s doing.”
Andrea Bargnani(notes) had 17 points for the Raptors, bouncing back after scoring a season-low eight points in Friday’s win over Indiana. Leandro Barbosa(notes) added 15 points for Toronto, which is winless in four meetings with Charlotte this season and has lost 11 of 15 and 24 of 29. Jose Calderon(notes) had 13 points and DeMar DeRozan(notes) 11.
“We didn’t have enough guys that played well offensively,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said. “The guys that usually score for us didn’t and had off games shooting the ball, especially from the free throw line.”
Toronto went 20 for 31 from the line, with rookie Ed Davis(notes) missing a team-high four free throws. The Raptors have not won back-to-back games since home wins over Washington on Dec. 1 and Oklahoma City on Dec. 3.
“I wish he was on my team. I love the way he plays,” Jackson said, referring to his opponent as “mad man Evans.”
Trailing by five points to start the final quarter, Toronto drew to within two on a 3-pointer by Barbosa with 6:26 left. But the Raptors missed their next three shots and baskets by Dante Cunningham(notes) and Diaw gave Charlotte an 88-82 lead with 4:45 left.
Charlotte led 91-85 on a jumper by Augustin with 2:35 left before Barbosa’s three-point play made it 91-88. Augustin hit a running jumper, DeRozan answered with a dunk but Henderson made a pair from the line, putting the Bobcats up 95-90 with 59 seconds left.
Barbosa missed two 3-pointers and Calderon also missed from beyond the arc in the final minute, and Tyrus Thomas blocked DeRozan’s jump shot as the Bobcats closed out the win.
Charlotte led 22-13 after a 3-pointer by Augustin with 4:11 left in the first. But the Bobcats missed their next five shots and Barbosa tied it at 22-all on a 3 with 11 seconds left in the quarter. Augustin’s two free throws gave Charlotte a 24-22 lead after one.
Henderson scored eight points in the second and the Bobcats made 12 of 16 field goal attempts to lead 50-47 at the half.
Augustin scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to help the Bobcats open a 69-56 lead with 6:37 left in the third. But Augustin didn’t score again in the quarter and Calderon had eight points as Toronto trimmed the gap to five, trailing 76-71 to start the fourth.
Notes: Toronto’s Amir Johnson(notes) (sprained left ankle) missed his second straight game and Alexis Ajinca(notes) (right knee) missed his third straight game. … Charlotte’s last road win was an 88-86 win at Atlanta on Feb. 12. … The teams combined for 39 turnovers, 21 by the Raptors.