Bobcats 101, Raptors 96
Stephen Jackson only got one fingertip on the ball, but that was all he needed for a game-clinching steal.
Jackson scored half of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and Gerald Wallace finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds to help the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Toronto Raptors 101-96 on Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
''We still have a long way to go but I'm proud of them,'' Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. ''We weren't feeling great at halftime and a couple of our players were kind of down. But the best way to overcome adversity is to play like (Jackson) and Tyrus (Thomas) did in the second half. They gave us a chance to win.''
D.J. Augustin had 16 points and Thomas scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth to help the Bobcats avoid a 1-7 start for the first time since their 2004-05 expansion season.
''If Tyrus plays like that every night it's going to be hard for us to lose to anybody,'' Jackson said.
Jackson stripped Toronto center Andrea Bargnani with five seconds left and the Bobcats clinging to a three-point edge, then sealed it with a pair of free throws.
''That's one of those plays where you hope you get it,'' Jackson said. ''If you don't, you made a bad decision. If you do, you're the hero. He'd been killing us all game. I just wanted to make it uncomfortable. Thank God I was able to get my hand on the ball. It was a fingertip. I barely got my hands on it.''
Watching nearby, Wallace was equally concerned about Jackson's efforts to stop Bargnani.
''I was just telling him 'Don't let him shoot,''' Wallace said. ''That was my main thing. Run up there, jump in his shorts, do whatever you want to do, just don't let him shoot. We'll take a 3 from anybody else but him.''
A frustrated Bargnani didn't want to dwell on his untimely turnover.
''I lost the ball,'' Bargnani said. ''There's no more to describe. He tipped it away.''
After losing their previous three games by a combined 14 points, coming out on the right side of a close one was relief for the Bobcats.
''It feels pretty good, especially for us to end the game on a defensive stop,'' Wallace said.
Bargnani scored 23 points and Sonny Weems had 20 for the Raptors, who have lost six straight for the first time since a seven-game slide from Feb. 27 to March 13, 2009.
Tied 48-48 at the half, the Raptors got seven points from Weems in the third quarter to take a 74-69 lead into the fourth.
Toronto held its lead until Jackson hit a 3-pointer with 5:37 left, but Weems tied it at 87 with a jump shot on the next possession.
Jackson made a jumper and Thomas added a driving layup to give the Bobcats a four-point lead, 91-87 with 3:46 remaining.
A driving dunk by Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan cut it to 93-91 but the Raptors missed a chance to tie when Bargnani could only make one of two from the line.
Bargnani missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 38 seconds to play but drove for a layup that cut the deficit to one, 97-96. Thomas was fouled at the other end and made both free throws to put Charlotte up 99-96 with 12.7 seconds left.
Looking for the tie, Toronto came up empty when Jackson stole the ball from Bargnani on the wing and drained a pair of free throws, sending the crowd of 14,309 to the exits.
Toronto's Reggie Evans had 10 rebounds and two points before leaving with 5:46 left in the fourth after suffering a bruised left hip.
Notes: Toronto was without G Leandro Barbosa, who left Monday's loss to Golden State with a strained left shoulder, and C David Andersen (flulike symptoms). It's not known whether Barbosa will accompany the team on its weekend road trip to Orlando and Miami. ... Linas Kleiza started for the Raptors despite a sore Achilles' heel but played just 17 minutes. ... Evans has recorded double digits in rebounds five times in eight games, but has yet to top six points. ... Wallace has three double-doubles this season. ... Thomas had five of Charlotte's 13 blocks, with Wallace adding four. ... Augustin celebrated his 23rd birthday.