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Henderson leads Bobcats to win vs. Raptors

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- By his own admission, Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson's season got started on the wrong foot with three sub-par games.

But that's behind him now as he led the Bobcats to back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Henderson scored a season-high 23 points to lead the Bobcats to a 92-90 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, one night after he scored 18 in the Bobcats' 102-97 win at New York.

Henderson scored 12 points in the first quarter as the Bobcats jumped out to a 16-point first-half lead. Then he played a pivotal role down the stretch as the Bobcats barely held on after taking a 9-point lead into the final five minutes.

"This is a good building block," Henderson said. "I think from these last two games, you play a team like New York, who is supposed to be a contender, and you play them really well in their home arena, and then you come here on a back-to-back and beat another pretty good team, it just kinda shows our toughness and the work we've put in so far."

Henderson averaged just 9.3 points in the Bobcats' first three games, shooting a combined 10 of 36 from the field. He was 10 of 17 from the field on Wednesday.

"I feel like the percentages always play themselves out," Henderson said. "I started the first three games horribly, but shooting wise, looking at my shots with Coach, I shot all good shots, the shots I normally shoot, and they just weren't falling. So you stick with it and come in here and continue to get reps and try to focus on your entire game, rebounding, passing, playing defense."

Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said that he never worried about the 6-foot-4 Henderson for that very reason.

"It's like Pat Riley says, it's a make and miss league," Clifford said. "The ball wasn't going in the first three games, and now it is. But I never worried about him. Everything he does on the floor makes sense to me, on both ends. He's a prideful guy and he wants to win, and everything he's supposed to do, he does."

The Bobcats (3-2) have now beaten the Raptors six straight times at Time Warner Cable Arena, which ties a franchise record. The Raptors fell to 2-3.

Charlotte also got 14 points from forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, including a drive with 1:11 left that put the Bobcats up 92-88. Forwards Josh McRoberts and Jeffery Taylor scored 13 each, and Bismack Biyombo had eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

It was Biyombo's block of Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan with 25 seconds left that thwarted Toronto's chance to tie the game at 92, and the Bobcats then ran the clock out as Toronto surprisingly chose not to foul. The game ended with Henderson throwing up a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer, and the Raptors didn't rebound until the buzzer had sounded.

"We didn't plan it that way, but we're not going to go back and replay the ending," Clifford said.

Forward Rudy Gay led Toronto with 20 points but was 8 of 21 from the field. DeRozan was 5 of 16 from the field for 14 points. Forward Amir Johnson scored 13, and center Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey was more upset with his team's start than the way the game ended. The Bobcats led 32-18 after one quarter, hitting 15 of 20 from the field in the first quarter.

"Our approach in the first quarter was very unlike us," Casey said. "We did not play the way we did the last three quarters. This is a great learning lesson for us. Never leave winning the game to the last couple of possessions. Instead of us coming out focused defensively in the first quarter, we let them get a flow going. It's a tough league. You have to come out ready to play every game."

NOTES: Charlotte G Kemba Walker played despite suffering a shoulder injury on Tuesday at New York, finishing with five points. Walker has never missed a game since coming into the league in 2011. He and Golden State G Klay Thompson are the only members of the 2011 draft class that have played in every game since entering the league. ... The Bobcats were without C Al Jefferson for the fourth straight game because of a bone bruise in his right ankle, and C Brendan Haywood is likely out for at least two months with a stress fracture in his left foot. ... Toronto G DeMar DeRozan came into the game 20th in the NBA in scoring at 20.5 ppg. ... Wednesday's game was the start of a three-game homestand for the Bobcats. They'll play host to New York on Friday. ... The Raptors were starting a two-game road trip and will play at Indiana on Friday.
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