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Bobcats edge Raptors for first winning streak since fall

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats know all about losing streaks.

Now, they finally have a winning streak to talk about, for the first time in four months.

The Bobcats beat the Toronto Raptors 107-101 on Wednesday night, which -- coupled with a win over Washington on Monday -- gave them a two-game winning streak for the first time since November. They've only had three two-game winning streaks all season.

Bobcats players weren't about to make too much of the victory afterward, but it clearly is a morale boost for a team that still has the NBA's worst record at 16-52.

"I'd say we're kinda going back to the way we were playing at the beginning of the season," forward Byron Mullens said. "I don't want to get way over the top because it's just two wins. But we're going to take it for what it is.

"We've got two wins in a row, it's been a while since we've had that, so I want to enjoy it. It feels good, so we've got to get that feeling and keep it."

The Bobcats had a three-game winning streak and a two-game streak as part of a 6-4 start to open the season, but have had losing streaks of 18 and 10 games in the past three months.

"What's amazing to me is we've gone through a lot, we know what our record is, and for them to be playing like this now just means the players like each other, through a lot of adversity," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "Youth helps that, but I think the veterans deserve a lot of credit too.

"Offensively we're starting to hit spurts where all of a sudden we're seeing different schemes but we keep scoring. Our scoring has gone out to the desert sometimes but I see that changing. Defensively, we're getting important stops, and our rebounding is getting better."

Mullens came off the bench to lead the way with 25 points. He hit four free throws in the final 11.1 seconds to seal the win, after the Raptors were as close as three in the final minute.

The Bobcats led by as many as nine in the fourth quarter and got their final working margin when Ben Gordon hit two free throws and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions for a 99-93 lead with 1:59 remaining.

The Bobcats also got 21 points from Gerald Henderson -- the fourth time in the last five games he has scored 20 or more -- plus 16 from Gordon, 14 from Kemba Walker, 12 points and 12 rebounds from Josh McRoberts, and 11 points from Jannero Pargo.

The Bobcats' bench outscored the Toronto bench 54-13.

"The chemistry is good," Dunlap said. "The bench had (54), and that's crazy. So they deserve a lot of credit for that. You can't have a bench do that unless the chemistry is working."

The Raptors, who fell to 26-42, led by as many as 11 in the first quarter but seemed to play with less passion as the game went on. Their defense was almost non-existent during stretches, allowing the Bobcats to shoot 46.7 percent from the field and go to the free-throw line 40 times.

"I was not happy with the competitive level," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We let the momentum go in the second quarter and then we never got it back. And down the stretch we didn't do the little things.

"I've said it all year, I've said it for two years now, it's not the scoring, the 3-point shots, it's fundamentally knuckling down at winning time. That's what it's about."

Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 25 points. DeMar DeRozan scored 19, Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry scored 18 each, and Amir Johnson had eight points and 10 rebounds.

NOTES: The Raptors have now lost their last five games in Charlotte. ... This was the fourth and final meeting of the season between the teams, with the home team winning each game. ... The Bobcats continue to be without Ramon Sessions (knee) and DeSagana Diop (knee), while Andrea Bargnani (elbow) remained out for Toronto. ... This was the second game of a three-game home stand for the Bobcats. It will wrap up on Saturday against Detroit. ... The Raptors have a weekend set with New York coming up. They'll host the Knicks on Friday night, then will meet in a rematch at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
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