Bobcats-Raptors Preview

Precious little has gone right for the Toronto Raptors at

home.

For the Charlotte Bobcats, the positives have been fewer and

further between regardless of venue as they head into Friday

night’s game at Air Canada Centre trying to snap a franchise-record

16-game losing streak.

Charlotte (3-26) is winless since beating Golden State 112-100

on Jan. 14, and its 10 road losses during the skid have come by an

average of 16.2 points. The most recent defeat there came Wednesday

night, a 102-90 loss to Minnesota in which the Bobcats allowed 54

points in the paint while the Timberwolves shot 50.6 percent.

“Some nights it’s embarrassing, especially when we lose by a

lot,” rookie Kemba Walker said. “No one likes to lose by that many

points.”

Walker, the ninth overall pick, is third on the team with 13.1

points per game. D.J. Augustin – averaging 13.4 points – had nine

off the bench in his first action after missing 11 games with an

inflamed big toe. The Bobcats, however, are still without injured

swingman Gerald Henderson, who leads the team with 15.0 points per

game.

A loss would make the Bobcats the 28th team in NBA history to

drop at least 17 straight games, though they are still quite a

distance from Cleveland’s league-record 26-game skid from last

season.

“Everybody wants to make history but you don’t want to make

history that way,” guard Matt Carroll said. “You don’t want to be

that team.”

The Raptors, though, may be that team the Bobcats want to play.

Charlotte won all four meetings last season, with Augustin

averaging 18.5 points and 6.3 assists while committing just three

turnovers.

Toronto (9-22) is 1-4 on its current seven-game homestand and

4-10 there overall, having dropped the last three. Having been

overwhelmed by Linsanity in losing on a last-second 3-pointer

Tuesday by the New York Knicks guard, the Raptors had no answer for

another star point guard the following night when Tony Parker had

34 points and 14 assists in Toronto’s 113-106 loss.

One of the problems for the Raptors has been finding healthy

quality players. Leading scorer Andrea Bargnani – averaging 23.5

points – likely will miss his 19th game in the last 21 with a

strained left calf, while Jerryd Bayless (ankle) and Linas Kleiza

(knee) – both scoring in double figures at 11.3 and 10.7 points per

game, respectively – are questionable for this game.

There were positives in Wednesday’s loss, however. DeMar DeRozan

scored a season-high 29 points, and Toronto’s shortened bench

contributed 45 as Rasual Butler, Ed Davis and Anthony Carter all

reached double figures.

“Our bench did a great job,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Everyone

that came in competed and played hard. Now, we have to find a

closing group to close the game. And it goes back to being

healthy.”

Despite the spate of injuries, Toronto’s offense has functioned

well, shooting at least 47.4 percent during the three-game skid.

The Raptors, though, have been outscored 55-30 at the foul line in

that span.