Raptors coach Sam Mitchell kept the locker room closed for an
exceptionally long time after the game, and his anger was evident
when he finally emerged.
"We're beating ourselves and that's a disappointment," he
said. "We've done it on the road and at home at times. Until we
understand that if you want to be a playoff team you've got to go
out and compete every night, every possession, we're going to have
a mediocre season."
Mitchell also pointed out recent Toronto media coverage that had
ragged the Raptors' poor play.
"I'm going to defend my guys, but they've got to give me
something to defend them with," Mitchell said. "They've got to
give me some ammunition so when someone insults them I can go out
with my head held high and say `No' without looking like a fool."
Despite their struggles on the road, the Raptors had to like
their chances. They beat the Bobcats earlier this week following
one of Charlotte's customary fourth-quarter collapses. So when
Toronto started the fourth quarter with a 71-68 lead, the Raptors
appeared to be in good shape.
Instead, Charlotte came out firing and made its first five shots
to force the Raptors to take a timeout after Okafor's dunk made it
Charlotte kept hitting its shots, while nothing went right for
the Raptors. They missed shots, turned the ball over on a
shot-clock violation and lost it on an offensive foul. The drought
lasted until Alston's 18-footer with 6:57 to play cut Charlotte's
lead to 82-75.
"If you play hard for 30 minutes, you are going to get beat,"
Alston said. "We don't have our intensity level as high as we need
to be. We're playing good at home, we play hard on the road
sometimes, but we don't sustain it for 48 minutes."
The Bobcats built a nine-point lead before Toronto chipped away
with a three-point play by Bosh and a 3-pointer from Rose.
But Rush answered with a 3 for Charlotte to make it 91-85 with
3:03 to play.
After making their first 11 free throws, the Bobcats missed for
the first time when Brezec didn't connect with 54 seconds to play.
Toronto then got a pair from Alston with 47 seconds left to cut
Charlotte's lead to 96-92. The Bobcats took a timeout and Hart, who
fouled Alston, was disgusted with himself on the bench.
But Charlotte closed by making three of its next four free
throws to close out the win.
Bobcats guard Brevin Knight missed his fifth consecutive
game with a sprained ankle, but will travel with Charlotte on its
upcoming four-game road trip in hopes of playing before it is over.
... Toronto's Morris Peterson missed all eight of his shots before
being taken out of the game in the third quarter.