Bobcats hold on to beat Raptors 100-95
Al Jefferson had 22 points and 19 rebounds Monday, and the Bobcats held on to win 100-95 and beat the Toronto Raptors for the seventh straight time in Charlotte.
Jefferson became the first Bobcats player to have a double-double in the first quarter with 10 points and 10 rebounds, sending Charlotte to a 26-11 lead. The Bobcats stretched the lead to 30 in the third quarter but had to withstand a furious Toronto rally.
With point guard Kemba Walker out with a sprained ankle, Ramon Sessions and Jannero Pargo combined for 40 points on 10 of 17 shooting. Sessions had 23 points and was 10 of 11 from the line, including two free throws with 1.6 seconds left.
DeMar Derozan had 25 points and Kyle Lowry had 21 for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors, who fell to .500 after their fourth straight road loss.
Jefferson, who came in averaging 27.8 points and 11.5 rebounds for his previous four games, had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the first half as the Bobcats went up 55-36.
Charlotte led by 30 with 4:37 left in the third quarter, but the Raptors would start to get hot from the outside, cutting the lead to 89-84 with four minutes remaining in the game on back-to-back 3-pointers by Greivis Vasquez and a driving baseline layup by Lowry.
Things got tighter when DeRozan stripped Jefferson in the low post and went the length of the floor for an uncontested layup to trim the lead to three with 2:33 left.
And finally, with 25.9 seconds left, Lowry drove the lane and scored and drew a foul on Jefferson with 25.9 seconds to go. But Lowry missed the free throw that would have tied the game.
Sessions hit two free throws to push the lead back to three. Vasquez got an open look from the right corner but missed a 3-pointer and the Raptors fouled Gerald Henderson, who hit one of two free throws.
Lowry missed another 3-pointer and Henderson again got the rebound. This time, he made both free throws with 10 seconds left to seal the win. Lowry would hit a 3-pointer, but Sessions sank two more free throws with 1.6 second left.
Walker is expected to miss about two weeks after spraining his ankle in Saturday night's loss to Miami. He had 29 points against the Raptors on Dec. 18, including a winning buzzer beater in a 104-102 victory.
But Sessions and Pargo were more than up to the task or replacing him. Sessions had nine points in the first quarter and Pargo came off the bench to hit his first three shots, including two 3-pointers, in his first four minutes of play in the second quarter.
NOTES: The 36 points in the first half were the fewest allowed by the Bobcats all season — they held the Raptors to 33 percent shooting. ... Walker's streak of 190 straight games — the second longest in Bobcats' history — ended Monday.