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Raptors crush Bobcats for second straight win

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - The Toronto Raptors took the lead at the beginning and did not let up, and that was what pleased head coach Dwane Casey most after Friday's 99-78 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

"They kept on pushing," Casey said. "I liked our businesslike approach in the second half. The hardest thing to do in the NBA is to play with the lead."

Alan Anderson came off the bench to lead the Raptors to their second win in a row with 16 points before a crowd of 14,373 at Air Canada Centre.

The Raptors have won three of the first five games during their six-game homestand, and in each win they have led all the way.

"This is what we have to do," Casey said. "You have to continue to play hard. It is about focus, attention to detail, staying in the moment and pushing every possession. That is what our guys did tonight."

Jose Calderon added 15 points and six assists for the Raptors. Amir Johnson chipped in with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Ed Davis had 12 points and also grabbed eight rebounds. Landry Fields led the game with 11 rebounds to go with eight points.

It was the second loss in a row for the young Bobcats.

"Well, that group out there is young, so you have four out of the five guys are under 23," Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap said. "They just have to learn in order to find the rim and paint, the ball has to move a little more freely."

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon each scored 12 points to lead Charlotte. Ramon Sessions added 11 and Jeff Taylor had 10 for the Bobcats.

The Raptors (14-22) scored the first six points of the game on their way to a 29-point first quarter and never looked back.

"It was great. We were moving the ball and everybody was looking for the open guy, sharing," Calderon said. "It's fun when you do that. It was great to see everybody scoring, and moving the ball so it was a great game for us. I think our defense was good tonight too. We knew what we had to do. We kind of built a wall there for everybody. It was a great team effort. Eddie and Amir are doing a great job. The chemistry is there."

"Obviously, from a defensive perspective in the first quarter, you spot somebody 13 points and give them 29 is inexcusable," Dunlap said. "That's our center point. and then finding guys who can play with energy. ..We just have to find guys who can start us and get us going, especially on the defensive end and then play with some snap."

"It's kind of been our Achilles heel the last few games, not really getting off the good starts in the first quarter and first half in general," Gordon said. "That is something that has been biting us in our butt. We just have to figure that out. Figure out how to come out with more attention to detail at the beginning of the games and with more defensive energy."

The Raptors showed no signs of letting up when reserve point guard Kyle Lowry hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter to give the Raptors a 21-point lead. Lowry hit another 3-point shot with 4:41 to play to increase Toronto's lead to 90-66.

Taylor's 3-pointer brought Charlotte (9-26) back to within 18 points with 2:38 remaining in the game, but John Lucas came back with a 3-pointer for Toronto as the game wound down with a liberal use of substitutes.

Toronto led by 14 points entering the second half and increased it to 21 when Calderon made a 3-pointer with 8:29 to play in the third quarter. The Bobcats cut the lead to 15, but the Raptors stretched it to 22 after Anderson hit a 3-point shot with 2:22 left in the quarter. The Bobcats reduced the lead to 15 on a reverse layup by Jeff Adrien, but Anderson hit another 3-pointer and Toronto led 76-58 after three quarters.

Calderon scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Raptors opened a 29-16 lead. The lead increased to 21 when Anderson hit a 3-pointer with 8:02 to go in the second quarter, and Toronto went into halftime with a 53-39 lead. Johnson led all scorers in the first half with 11 points and Gordon led Charlotte with 10.

"I love Amir Johnson," Casey said. "He is a warrior. He brings it every night. He has a bum ankle. Most guys with an ankle like his would be out two or three months."

NOTES: Raptors rookie guard Terrence Ross, who suffered a sprained left ankle during the Jan. 6 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and missed Wednesday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers, was back in the lineup on Friday and scored seven points. ... Forward/center Andrea Bargnani (right elbow), center Jonas Valanciunas (right ring finger) and forward Linas Kleiza (right knee) continue to be out for Toronto. ... Johnson started his third consecutive game at center for Toronto. They are his first starts of the season. ... Anderson played for the Bobcats from 2005-2007. ... Bobcats forward/center Byron Mullens (left ankle) missed his eighth game in a row. ... The Bobcats defeated the Raptors in their previous meeting this season 98-97 at Charlotte. They meet twice more this season. The Bobcats entered Friday having won seven of their past eight meetings with the Raptors. ... The Raptors play Sunday at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. ... The Bobcats visit the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

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