The Toronto Raptors were coming off an impressive win in their last outing against the Philadelphia 76ers, and that was precisely what was bothering coach Dwane Casey as his team prepared to face the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.
The last time the Raptors went out and performed to their overall capabilities, they were rewarded with an impressive 102-79 win against the tough Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 2.
The Raptors followed that up with a rather odorous effort the following game where they got clubbed by the unimpressive Sacramento Kings.
Toronto is not a good enough team to take nights like that off – and Casey made sure his player’s were well aware of that heading in against the Bobcats.
“Believe me, I’ve been preaching it for the last couple of days,” Casey said. “We can’t have a let down.”
There was certainly no let down against the low-down Bobcats, who demonstrated once again that they deserve their status as one of the bottom feeders within the National Basketball Association.
The Raptors (14-22) simply ran roughshod over their inept visitors from the opening tip and rolled to a 99-78 victory at the Air Canada Centre, certainly one of Toronto’s easiest victories of the year.
For the Raptors, it was their second win in a row and 10th out of their last 13 as their recent resurgence continues.
The Raptors, who counted four players in double figures, were led by 16 points off the bench by Alan Anderson.
Jose Calderon chipped in with 15 points and six assists.
Heck, even the little-used Quincy Acy got into the act, matching his season high with six points, including a couple of crowd-pleasing dunks, to go with a season-best six rebounds.
The Raptors should have a tougher test on Sunday when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks, the final game of a six-game homestand where Toronto has won three of the first five.
To put Friday’s lopsided win in a bit of perspective, it did come against a Charlotte outfit (9-26) that has already endured a mind-numbing 18-game losing streak this season.
And as bad as Michael Jordan’s group has been it is almost mind-boggling to consider that the Bobcats have already won two more games than they did all of last season – one of them against the Raptors back on Nov. 21.
That was back when a healthy Andrea Bargnani was still in the lineup for the Raptors, so a cynic might suggest they were playing at a disadvantage.
The Raptors came out playing crisp, smart basketball, displaying plenty of offensive flash against the flat-footed Bobcats and powered to a 29-16 first quarter lead.
Toronto power forward Ed Davis, who has inherited Bargnani’s starting job at power forward since the big Italian injured his right arm almost a month ago, continued his strong play.
Davis jump started the Toronto offence, missing a hook shot on Toronto’s opening possession but gathered up the offensive rebound for an easy bucket to set the tone. Davis would finish with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Calderon, the starting point guard for the Raptors, then picked the pocket of Charlotte guard Kemba Walker as he attempted to duck past for a steal and sashayed all the way up court for another easy Toronto bucket.
Calderon then threaded a clever pass into the paint for Davis, who easily worked his way into the clear against a threadbare Bobcats’ interior defence that resulted in a jam and the Raptors were on their way.
Calderon scored 10 of his points in the opening frame.
Rookie Terrence Ross saw some playing time after missing two games with a bad ankle, coming off the bench to score seven points.