TORONTO – The Toronto Raptors turned 23 Charlotte Bobcats turnovers into 33 points, and they needed every one of them.
Chris Bosh scored 33 points and Andrea Bargnani added 28 on Wednesday night and the Raptors extended their winning streak to a season-best five games with a 107-103 victory over the sloppy Bobcats. The victory before a crowd of 18,979 at the Air Canada Centre avenged a 116-81 loss in Charlotte on Nov. 25.
Raptors head coach Jay Triano said the turnovers were a result of Toronto’s defence applying more pressure on the ball.
“The last time we played these guys – we showed the tape – we were five-feet off guys and let them do whatever they wanted to do,” Triano said. “And even though we knew we were going to be blown by a tonight a couple of times tonight, and we did, we just felt that more pressure on the ball would create turnovers, create deflections.
“That’s how we’ve been playing for the last 13 games. We decided to not be positional players. If we’re going to get beat let’s get beat aggressively.”
Bosh and Bargnani came up with the big points down the stretch for the Raptors (16-17) who had 11 turnovers leading to 15 Bobcats points.
Marco Belinelli picked up 13 points off the bench for the Raptors, who were without Hedo Turkoglu who has what the club called a contusion of the right knee.
Triano said the injury came during practice on Tuesday and that he was questionable for Wednesday’s game. He lasted 14 minutes and scored two points and had five assists.
“He went upstairs, warmed it up, got it ready, but we knew that he might have to pull the plug at some point,” Triano said. “Sure enough it tightened up.”
The Bobcats (12-18) got 30 points from Stephen Jackson, 23 from Raymond Felton and 15 from Gerald Wallace, who also had a game-high 16 rebounds.
Bobcats head coach Larry Brown, who picked up a technical for voicing his disagreement over a foul call late in the second quarter, lamented the turnovers.
“The defence was pretty solid but when you give up 30 points on turnovers on the road it’s too big a hill to climb,” Brown said. “And they made shots. They made big plays and we didn’t.”
The Bobcats had a one-point lead at the half and led by eight in the third quarter, but Toronto came back and took a four-point lead into the fourth.
The Raptors had a seven-point lead with 5:52 left in the game, but the Bobcats cut that to one point with 3:53 to go when Jackson hit two free throws.
Wallace put the Bobcats ahead 101-100 with 1:43 left on a driving lay-up after Bargnani missed a shot, but Bosh put Toronto back in the lead 102-101 with a lay-up.
Bargnani’s three-pointer with 10.9 seconds left after a Charlotte turnover put Toronto ahead by four and Bosh hit two free throws with 3.9 seconds left after the Bobcats cut the lead to two.
“The play was for CB (Bosh) in the low post,” Bargnani said. “But three guys went for him so he made a great pass to pick the open guy. It was me this time.”
When the Raptors lost by 35 points in Charlotte it was the beginning of a five-game losing streak.
“It is always good to retaliate and win in the fashion we did,” Bosh said. “We didn’t lose our composure when they took the lead late in the game. We made some mistakes but we just kept playing and ground it out.”
Notes: The Raptors finished December with a 9-6 record for the month, the most wins they have had in December…Charlotte is 1-14 on the road. Only the New Jersey Nets at 1-16 have a worse away record in the NBA…Bosh is 39 points away from equalling Vince Carter’s franchise-high of 9,420 points….Charlotte centre Tyson Chandler missed his third consecutive game with a stress reaction in his left foot…The Raptors who have built the winning streak against sub .500 teams have a little tougher opposition now as they visit the Boston Celtics on Saturday night and return home for an evening game Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.