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Posted Jan 21 2007 8:30PM
After a tough loss to one of the NBA's best teams, the Toronto Raptors look to regroup as they continue a five-game homestand by hosting the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.
The Raptors had won four of their previous five games, but lost 102-94 to Utah on Friday night, falling to 1-1 on this current homestand. Toronto was outrebounded 45-34 and outscored 48-30 in the paint.
"I felt like we beat ourselves," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "Not to take anything away from Utah but we turned down shots when we were open, we missed people on easy passes that we normally make. We were just in funk. We missed free throws, we missed layups, we missed shots that go in."
The Raptors (19-22) had won three of their past four at home before Friday's loss. They finish the homestand with games against Charlotte, New Orleans and Boston, teams with a combined record of 42-75.
"We took a step back today," Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. "We need to look at the film and learn from our mistakes, continue to play our style of defense because we didn't do such a good job today and we just have to take this one and try to get the rest of the three games we have on this homestand."
The Raptors, who are 11-7 at the Air Canada Centre, trail New Jersey by 1 1/2 games in the Atlantic Division.
Charlotte (14-25) enters Monday's contest after sweeping a home-and-home with Atlanta, moving out of last place and past the Hawks in the Southeast Division. The Bobcats won 96-75 in Atlanta on Friday, then beat the Hawks 104-85 at home on Saturday.
Charlotte - which has won five of its last seven games - has consecutive wins for just the third time this season, and all three occurrences have happened the last month.
"We're playing some of the best basketball of the season right now," said Bobcats guard Matt Carroll, who scored 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting. "If you look at the games that we lost, there are a couple that we could have won and should have won, but we let them slip away. We could have some more wins, but that's how it goes. The wins that we've gotten recently are because we're playing pretty well together. I can't remember the last time we won two games in a row by this high of a margin. For us, it feels good to see the hard work paying off."
Led by Carroll and Emeka Okafor (8-for-9, 19 points), the Bobcats shot a team-record 64.6 percent on Saturday, easily eclipsing their previous best of 59.3 percent, set in a 126-110 win over New York on Jan. 12.
"I was impressed, too, to be honest," Carroll said of the Bobcats shooting. "It's fun to play. The ball was moving and everyone got some good touches. I think that's what got us our good looks and why we had our high shooting percentage."
The Bobcats have won three straight on the road, matching the franchise record set two previous times.
The Raptors have won five of the seven meetings with Charlotte, though the Bobcats won 94-88 in Toronto in the teams' last matchup on April 9, 2006.
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