Raptors 103, Bobcats 101
Their postseason hopes suddenly in jeopardy, and with their $53 million shooter now an unwanted distraction, the Toronto Raptors came to Charlotte angry and on the edge of implosion.
The Bobcats' meek, nervous response showed this playoff race thing is still new to them.
Chris Bosh had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Hedo Turkoglu hit the go-ahead 3-pointer a day after getting benched, and the Raptors beat the Bobcats 103-101 on Monday night in a matchup of two of the five clubs jockeying for the final four playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
``We needed this game,'' said Turkoglu, who came off the bench to score 11 points. ``Chicago is right on our tail.''
The Raptors (36-37) entered having lost three straight and 13 of 17, but they managed to snap Charlotte's three-game winning streak to stay in eighth place in the East, a game ahead of the idle Bulls with nine games left.
The Bobcats (38-35) stayed in seventh in the East, but surrendered the tiebreaker to Toronto and saw their lead over ninth-place Chicago fall to three games.
Thy spent much of the night upset with the officials - even owner Michael Jordan jumped up from his seat to yell about a call - and seemed to show their inexperience when the Raptors came out aggressive. There were several rough fouls and three technicals in a game not decided until Charlotte's Tyson Chandler couldn't handle Raymond Felton's pass in the lane in the closing seconds with Toronto up two.
``And this isn't even close to what the playoffs are going to be like,'' Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson said.
Felton had 18 points and seven assists, Jackson also scored 18 points, but was plagued by foul trouble, and Gerald Wallace had 17 points and eight rebounds for the sixth-year Bobcats, who have never made the playoffs.
The Raptors shot 51 percent and became the first team in 14 games to reach 100 points against Charlotte, which played without forward Tyrus Thomas (ankle).
``It's a game we should have won. We're a better team,'' Jackson insisted. ``Things just went their way.''
Jackson was upset at picking up his fifth foul on a charge in Toronto's 7-0 run to start the fourth. Jordan later jumped from his courtside seat and shouted at referee Eric Lewis for a different call that went against Charlotte.
The Raptors' spurt set up a tight finish, with Turkoglu's 3 with 4:24 left putting Toronto ahead 95-93. Bosh then dunked on Wallace and Jarrett Jack hit three free throws after being fouled by Felton to put Toronto ahead 100-93 with 2:56 left.
Jackson returned from a long stint on the bench and hit a 3 and two free throws to cut the deficit to 100-98 with 1:18 left. Jackson then knocked the ball away from Turkoglu, who stepped on the sideline while retrieving it.
But Jackson and Wallace missed jumpers down the stretch for Charlotte. The Raptors did just enough to hold on, and survived after Sonny Weems missed two free throws with 13 seconds left to give Charlotte a chance to tie.
``I'm not going to say that's the reason we lost the game,'' Felton said of his botched pass, ``but we had a chance to win at that point.''
Andrea Bargnani had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors, and Antoine Wright added 15 points starting in Turkoglu's spot.
Turkoglu, who signed a five-year, $53 million free-agent deal with the Raptors in the offseason, was a healthy scratch for the first time in seven years Sunday in Miami. It came after he was spotted out on the town Friday night - hours after he missed a home loss to Denver with what was called a stomach virus.
Coach Jay Triano, asked before the game if he was concerned if Turkoglu would accept his indefinite role as a reserve replied, ``Probably more readily than not playing at all.''
Turkoglu checked in with 1:50 left in the first quarter and hit two 3-pointers and a mid-range jumper in the first half, but was 0 for 3 in the second half before his 3 put Toronto ahead for good.
``If I'm going to start off on the bench, it doesn't matter for me,'' Turkoglu said. ``Whenever I get a chance, I'm just going to try to do my job and help the team get a W.''
NOTES: The most difficult basket of the night didn't count. Wallace hit a shot from the other side of the backboard while falling out of bounds after getting fouled. Wright then slammed the ball against the basket support and was called for a technical foul. ... Jackson and Raptors C Andrea Bargnani were also called for third-quarter technicals. ... The Bobcats say Thomas first sprained his left ankle Wednesday against Minnesota. He played Friday against Washington. ... Hours after winning the NASCAR race at Martinsville, season-ticket holder Denny Hamlin took in the game.