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Johnson's big rebounding night helps Raptors win

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - Amir Johnson set a career high with 21 rebounds, helping the Toronto Raptors pull away from the Charlotte Bobcats down the stretch and pick up a 92-78 win at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night.

Rudy Gay led all scorers with 28 points to go along with Johnson's big night on the boards.

"The ball was finding me in certain spots and I was able to get position and get the rebound," said Johnson, who was unaware that he had surpassed 20 rebounds.

"I was just playing hard and the next thing I know I looked up and I had 21 boards."

Gerald Henderson had 22 points to lead Charlotte, which lost for the 11th time in 12 games.

Toronto had led for virtually the entire game, but Henderson gave the Bobcats their first lead since the first quarter with two free throws with 10:55 remaining in the game.

After that, Toronto went on a 15-2 run and held on the rest of the way. While the Bobcats did well to keep things close, they faltered down the stretch with the Raptors holding them to just one field goal in the fourth quarter.

They were great from the foul line either.

"We couldn't make free throws," said Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap. "We lost 10 points there and then also you can't win when you score 10 points in the fourth quarter."

Leading by six at halftime, the Raptors came out of the locker room and quickly established a double-digit lead. But the Bobcats didn't let Toronto get out of sight.

Henderson's three-pointer with 4:48 remaining in the third made it a one-point game at 62-61. Charlotte tied it with just seconds remaining in the third quarter when Ben Gordon hit a 23-foot jumper to level the score at 68-68.

"We just couldn't come up with the plays. You have to credit their defense," said Henderson. "We weren't getting to the rim like we usually want to. We settled for jump shots and they weren't falling, and we weren't really getting out in our transition. We don't do that and it's going to be tough to score."

Sebastian Telfair gave the Raptors a one point lead heading into the final quarter when he hit a free throw with three seconds left in the third.

After a tight first quarter that saw the Raptors open up a four-point advantage at the end, Telfair came off the bench in the second and lead all scorers in the quarter with eight points.

His 20-foot pull-up jumper with just under seven minutes remaining in the half gave the Raptors a 13-point lead at 38-25. The Bobcats chipped away to make it 48-42 at the interval.

"You want consistent growth and consistent performance. We had that in the second half," said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. "But you have to have it in the first half as well. We have a great group of guys that want to play well, but they are human."

The Bobcats had the last possession of the half and had a chance to reduce the deficit, but Gordon missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

NOTES: DeSagana Diop (right knee soreness) and Ramon Sessions (left knee MCL sprain) were out of the lineup for Friday's game for Charlotte. ... Andrea Bargnani (right elbow sprain) was the only absence from the Raptors lineup. ... Raptors forward Linas Kleiza played for the Denver Nuggets when Dunlap was a Nuggets assistant from 2006-08. ... The Raptors return home after getting blown out 112-88 by the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday. ... Friday's game was the third of four meetings between the two teams this season. They split the two previous meetings, with the home team coming out on top in both games. ... Dunlap revealed that Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan lends advice to young players like second-year point guard Kemba Walker. "You always have (Jordan) who drops in periodically and he'll go through four or five points with Kemba and that's very powerful," Dunlap said prior to the game.
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