The Charlotte Bobcats have known for some time that they would have an early game on Monday. They came ready to play but nearly checked out early, holding on for a 100-95 win against the Toronto Raptors on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
Charlotte led by as many as 30 points early in the third quarter before watching that lead dwindle to one point late in the game. Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions came up with big free throws down the stretch to help his team hold on to its slim lead.
Sessions made the most of his extended playing time, which came as a result of the injury to starting point guard and leading scorer Kemba Walker. Walker is will be out for the next two weeks after injuring his ankle against Miami on Saturday. Sessions scored a team-high 23 points.
“It’s my seventh year, it’s kind of been how my career has been,” Sessions said. “When it’s time to get those extra minutes, just take advantage of them.”
“We’re going to miss Kemba tremendously,” he said. “A lot of guys have to step up, including myself.”
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said he was pleased with the way his team responded to Walker’s absence.
“To play without Kemba, the two point guards both played really well,” he said. “Ramon made a big shot and we made our free throws and that was a big win for us.”
Clifford blamed Charlotte’s turnovers for letting Toronto back into the game. Toronto outscored Charlotte 35-22 in the fourth quarter.
“They turned up the heat, we turned the ball over,” he said. “In the fourth quarter, the majority of their points were off our turnovers.”
The Bobcats also got a big game from Al Jefferson, who scored 22 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and dished off seven assists. Jefferson became the first Bobcat in team history to record a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) in the first quarter. Gerald Henderson (16 points) and Josh McRoberts (11 points) also scored in double figures.
The Bobcats will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena.