October 23, 2018 / 2:17 AM / 25 days ago

Leonard back to lead perfect Raptors past Hornets

EditorsNote: moves up material to form new second graf

Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and added four rebounds and three assists to help the Toronto Raptors to a 127-106 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

Leonard returned to action after missing a win over the Washington Wizards Saturday to avoid playing in back-to-back games. He sat out most of last season due to injuries.

Kyle Lowry added 16 points and 14 assists for the Raptors, who have won their first four games of the season.

Jonas Valanciunas added 17 points and 10 rebounds, with Danny Green totaling 16 points and six rebounds and Serge Ibaka 15 points and eight rebounds.

Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists. Jeremy Lamb added 16 points, and Nicolas Batum had 13 points, Willy Hernangomez 11 and Malik Monk 10 for the Hornets, who had won their two previous games of a four-game road trip and have split their first four games of the season.

The Raptors led by 18 points entering the fourth quarter and a dunk by Valanciunas had the lead at 21 with 8:51 to play.

Lowry scored eight points and Leonard had seven as the Raptors led by as many as 10 points before they finished the first quarter with a 31-22 lead. Lamb had six first-quarter points for the Hornets.

The Hornets cut the deficit to three points during the second quarter, but Leonard’s 3-pointer put Toronto ahead by 11 points with 4:08 left.

The lead reached 13 on a 3-pointer by Green set up by Leonard with 3:25 to play. Leonard hit another 3-pointer as the edge grew to 17 in the final minute. The Raptors led 62-47 after the first half, with Leonard leading the way with 15 points. Lowry had 10 points and seven points at halftime. Walker led the Hornets with 13 points.

Green’s 3-pointer bumped the advantage to 20 nearly three minutes into the third quarter. The Hornets whittled the lead to 11 on Lamb’s two free throws with 5:48 left in the quarter.

The Raptors, however, surged to a 23-point lead on Ibaka’s driving hook shot with 2:39 left in the third, which ended with Toronto leading 97-79.

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