- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Gerald Wallace scored 25 points and the Charlotte Bobcats began an important week for their playoff hopes by beating the Toronto Raptors 112-86 on Monday to snap a three-game losing streak.

D.J. Augustin added 15 points for the Bobcats, who moved within one game of idle Milwaukee and Chicago in the crowded and jumbled race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

With another game against Toronto and home games against struggling Sacramento and fellow playoff contender Indiana, the Bobcats are in need of a good week as coach Larry Brown tries to put the franchise into the postseason for the first time.

Chris Bosh had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the sloppy Raptors, who committed 24 turnovers and lost for the eighth time in nine games.

A day after their most lopsided win of the season against the Indiana, the Raptors put up little resistance, falling behind by 14 at halftime and 19 in the third quarter against a team with a renewed focus on defense.

After watching lowly Minnesota score 66 points in the first half and shoot 53 percent from the field in a win over Charlotte on Saturday, Brown called a meeting after shootaround Monday to go over “principles” of guarding pick-and-rolls.

Brown said the team’s roster turnover _ an NBA-high 24 players have suited up for Charlotte _ has played into the team’s defensive struggles, which helped halt a recent franchise-record six-game winning streak that put them into playoff contention.

The meeting seemed to help, as the Raptors never got in sync and their starting backcourt combined for 10 turnovers.

The Bobcats held the Raptors to 37 percent shooting in the first half in racing to a 57-43 lead behind 15 points from Wallace. Andrea Bargnani, who scored 27 points on Sunday, was just 2-for-7 from the field in the first half and finished with 13 points.

Chris Bosh, whose 25.6 points a game average against Charlotte coming in was his highest against any NBA team, got little help.

Anthony Parker had 11 points and six turnovers on 3-of-10 shooting. Jose Calderon had eight points, eight assists and four turnovers and picked up a late technical foul.

The Raptors, who had been 2-0 against Charlotte this season, couldn’t contain Wallace in another poor defensive performance which has plagued their disappointing season.

In his 20th game of 20 or more points, Wallace hit 8 of 13 shots, all eight free throws and grabbed nine rebounds.

Notes:@ The Raptors wore green jerseys for a second straight game in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It included a warmup top with a shamrock that made the Raptors look similar to the Boston Celtics in the layup line. … Raptors reserve G Marcus Banks (toe) stayed in Toronto to be examined. … Bobcats G Sean Singletary is averaging 17.5 points and C Alexis Ajinca 9.5 points in two games since being sent to Sioux Falls of the NBA Development League. … Bobcats F Sean May received loud cheers when he hit two jumpers in the final minute. May has played little due to weight and conditioning issues.

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