Raptors-Bobcats Preview

The Associated Press

The Charlotte Bobcats fell apart down the stretch against the Toronto Raptors a few days ago, but they managed to close things out in their last game.

The NBA-worst Bobcats try to build on a rare win Wednesday night against the Raptors, who hope to avoid a seventh loss in their last eight visits to Charlotte.

The Bobcats (15-52) led early in the fourth quarter Friday at Toronto before scoring eight points over the final 10 minutes of a 92-78 defeat. Charlotte also suffered a 105-88 loss at Boston the following night but returned home to beat Washington 119-114 on Monday.

The Bobcats, who posted season highs in points, field-goal percentage (53.2 percent) and assists (32), found themselves down by five with three minutes to play before putting together a 12-0 run. They have dropped nine games in which they led at some point during the fourth quarter.

"We had a lot of games that we probably should have won in the fourth quarter. But you know it's a part of growing and it's a part of rebuilding," Kemba Walker said after posting 18 points and seven assists. "I think we took a huge step. Being down five points and sticking with each other and being able to win."

Averaging 23.0 points over the last six games, Gerald Henderson continued his impressive play with 27 and a career high-tying eight assists.

"We've got a lot of fight," Henderson told the Bobcats' official website. "We had a little bit of a lull in the fourth quarter, but we pulled it back and came together. We got sharp on offense and defense and got it done tonight. We've kept working and played hard. It feels good."

While the Bobcats have dropped three of four overall to the Raptors, they've won four straight and six of seven in the series at home. Toronto has dropped five of its last six road games to fall to 9-24 south of the border this season.

The Raptors (26-41) are coming off Sunday's 108-91 home loss to Miami. Rudy Gay scored 27 points and Amir Johnson added 18 and 18 rebounds, but Toronto allowed the Heat to shoot 58.2 percent - its highest mark surrendered this season.

The 10th-place Raptors sit 8 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot, but they're still playing hard and aren't taking this matchup lightly.

"I think going in and having a purpose, having small goals, small victories, small things you want to work on is going to be huge for us," coach Dwane Casey said.

"In our three games against (the Bobcats), we've had 46 turnovers and given up (39) offensive rebounds, so going into this game, we want to make sure we work on our defensive rebounding and keep them off the boards."

After missing two games earlier this month due to back troubles, Gay appears to be close to full strength. He scored 28 points on a season-best 11-of-16 shooting versus Charlotte on Friday.

"I think the last couple of games, his back has loosened up where it's allowed him to do things in more of a fluid way," Casey said of Gay. "We kind of condense our menu when he's in there ... and I think he's getting more comfortable with those simple (offensive) sets."