Raptors-Bobcats Preview

The Associated PressMarch 17, 2012

With Jose Calderon out, Jerryd Bayless has done a nice job filling in for the injured Toronto Raptors point guard.

The Raptors will try to win back-to-back games for the first time since January when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.

This is the second meeting this season between two of the teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. League-worst Charlotte (6-36) defeated Toronto (15-29) 98-91 on Feb. 17 behind 22 points from Reggie Williams and 16 from Corey Maggette.

The Raptors have lost five straight to the Bobcats.

They'll try to end that skid and win consecutive games for the first time since beating Phoenix and Utah on the road Jan. 24 and 25.

Toronto held on for a 114-110 overtime win at Memphis on Friday after the Grizzlies erased an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Bayless led five players in double figures with 28 points, including five in the extra period. He added nine assists and six rebounds while Gary Forbes, who came in averaging 3.8 points, finished with a career-high 20.

Bayless has started the last four games in place of Calderon, who is out with a sprained ankle. Bayless has averaged 20.0 points and 8.0 assists in those starts and was coming off a 16-point, 10-assist performance against New Jersey on Wednesday.

"Jerryd did a heck of a job," coach Dwane Casey said. "I was really happy for him because he stepped up and performed.

With Bayless running the offense, Toronto has averaged 98.3 points the last four games - up nearly eight points from its season average.

He's been helped by the return of Andrea Bargnani, who has averaged 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds the last four games. He returned last Saturday after missing 20 games with a calf injury.

Bargnani, who finished with 18 points and seven boards Friday, did not play against Charlotte last month. He averaged 19.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in the previous six meetings.

Toronto will try to avoid becoming the first team to lose twice this season to the Bobcats.

Charlotte lost for the 10th time in 12 games overall, falling 101-96 at Dallas on Thursday to cap a 1-3 road trip.

Getting back to Charlotte, however, isn't likely to help the Bobcats, who have dropped 15 of 18 at Timer Warner Cable Arena this season.

After losing by 20 the night before against Houston, Charlotte challenged the Mavericks until the third quarter. The Bobcats were ahead by six at the half, but Dallas took a 74-68 lead into the fourth quarter and continued to pull away.

Maggette scored 21 points and Kemba Walker added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes off the bench.

The Bobcats shot 5 of 21 (23.8 percent) in the third quarter - far below their NBA-worst average for the period of 39.9 percent.

"That's been happening to us all year," Walker said. "The third quarter has been a major problem for us. ... I thought we had some great looks, they just weren't falling."