A winning streak. An honest-to-God Charlotte Bobcats winning streak.
Power forward Byron Mullens hit two free throws with 11 seconds left, clinching a 107-101 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
The Bobcats (16-52) also beat the Washington Wizards Monday. This is the team’s first back-to-back victories since the 6-4 start in November.
The Bobcats got 25 points from Mullens and 21 from Gerald Henderson, plus 12 points and 12 rebounds from Josh McRoberts. Demar DeRozan led the Raptors with 19 points.
Mullens added two more free throws with eight seconds left after stealing a Raptors in-bounds pass.
It got a little nerve-racking with three minutes left and both of Charlotte’s point guards – Kemba Walker and Jannero Pargo one foul from expulsion. Despite the foul situation, Walker and Josh McRoberts trapped Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry into a turnover with 2 1/2 minutes left. That set up Ben Gordon’s two free throws for a three-point lead.
Gordon followed that with a 3-pointer off a transition feed from Walker with two minutes left.
Walker finally fouled out with 1 minute, 45 seconds left, while defending Lowry’s drive to the rim. That brought Pargo back into the game. Lowry hit the free throws, but Henderson replied with a bounce pass to Mullens for an easy layup.
The Bobcats briefly trailed in the third quarter as Toronto made up a five-point deficit to lead 62-60. But the Bobcats recovered on a couple of dunks by McRoberts and a 2-pointer from Mullens. They entered the fourth quarter up 74-71 with McRoberts a rebound short of a double-double.
The Bobcats shot 8-of-14 from the field in the third quarter while holding the Raptors to 10-of-25 from the field.
The Bobcats made up an 11-point deficit to lead 53-48 at halftime. Though the Bobcats never quite figured out how to contain DeRozan (16 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half), the quality ball-movement the Bobcats got against the Washington Wizards continued Wednesday.
With 10 of 18 first-half baskets coming off assists, the Bobcats topped 50 first-half points for the second straight game. Part of that is the addition of McRoberts, whose high-post passing swings the ball from side-to-side and makes the Bobcats’ offense less predictable.
Henderson continued his strong March with 12 first-half points on 4-of-6 shooting. And Pargo, playing on a 10-day contract and replacing the injured Ramon Sessions, hit both his first-half 3s. Pargo has made nine of his first 16 3-point attempts as a Bobcat.
Mullens, who hadn’t played much of late until a 30-minute night against the Wizards, had a strong first half with eight points off four shots (though he missed all four of his free throws).
The Bobcats complete this homestand Saturday against the Detroit Pistons before playing the defending champion Heat in Miami Sunday.