N.O. rallies but loses to Raptors
NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Hornets refused to be held down.
The Toronto Raptors refused to be denied.
After watching the Hornets fight back to send the game into overtime, Toronto got a 3-pointer by point guard Kyle Lowry, and a big shot by DeMar DeRozan that sealed the deal, as Toronto won 104-97 Friday night at the New Orleans Arena.
DeRozan scored a game-high 30 points but the Raptors (10-20), who came into the game 2-15 on the road, won in overtime by reclaiming their defense which had given them control of the game since the second quarter until the Hornets (6-23) battled back.
Toronto, winners of six of their past seven, held New Orleans to 3-of-11 shooting in overtime while making four of six field-goal attempts and all four free throws.
“They did what they needed to do in overtime,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “They attacked the basket for the first two scores and were able to go from there and get the win.”
The loss was 12th in 13 games for the Hornets, coming after what seemed to be an encouraging road at Orlando on Wednesday. It was their ninth loss in the past 10 home games.
The loss offset a near triple-double by point guard Greivis Vasquez, who had 20 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, and 25 points and nine rebounds by Anthony Davis. Ryan Anderson scored 17 points, 12 after the third quarter, and made the 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime tied at 91.
But that’s when the Hornets, who had trailed since late in the third quarter, seemed to come up for air. And, that’s when the Raptors pounced.
Center Amir Johnson scored low, and after a miss by Davis, Lowry drove for a reverse layup, giving Toronto a 95-91 lead. After a tip-in by Anderson, Lowry sank a 3-pointer when the Hornets, trying to compensate when DeRozan was isolated on rookie Austin Rivers, were late rotating to the other side of the court.
DeRozan sank a 20-footer with 31.7 seconds left that gave the Raptors a 102-95 lead, ending the Hornets’ hopes.
Defense had been the key for the Raptors for nearly the entire game, certainly after the first quarter. The Hornets committed 16 turnovers while Toronto, with Lowry and veteran point guard Jose Calderon controlling things well, had just seven.
“We just tried to keep them off rhythm by constantly changing things up,” said Lowry, who had 17 points and eight assists in his first game back since Dec. 12 from a partially torn triceps.
When DeRozan made a three-point play on the fast break after a turnover by Rivers, making the score 90-83 with 1:38 left in the fourth quarter, things looked bleak for the Hornets. However, backup point guard Brian Roberts sank a 3-pointer that set things in motion.
With 16 seconds left, the Hornets trailed 91-88. Anderson came off a screen behind the 3-point line, and his shot bounced on the rim, then fell through. With eight seconds left, DeRozan got the ball isolated against Lance Thomas on the wing and drove right, but missed against solid defense, sending the game into overtime.
The Hornets fell into a hole in the second quarter that Williams said was a key in the loss. New Orleans took a 10-point first-quarter lead, but only led 23-21 at quarter’s end.
The Raptors began asserting themselves in the second quarter with their depth and athleticism, particularly on defense. They held the Hornets to 6-of-18 shooting and forced four turnovers in outscoring New Orleans 27-19 and taking a 48-42 lead. Toronto led 70-64 at the end of the third.