Lowry, DeRozan help Raptors sting Hornets
TORONTO — It came down to All-Star guards as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Charlotte Hornets 126-113 on Wednesday night.
The Raptors got the most of their star guards with Kyle Lowry producing a season-best 36 points with six assists and five rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan adding 30 points with six assists and four rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Hornets were playing without their All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, who has a shoulder injury. It showed, particularly early in the game, although Charlotte made a futile second-half run.
After leading by 19 points going into the second half, Toronto entered the fourth quarter with an eight-point advantage and increased it to 12 points when Norman Powell and Lowry hit consecutive 3-pointers.
Nicolas Batum made a 3-pointer with 4:42 to play to cut Toronto’s lead to five points.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey was upset with the way the Raptors let the Hornets back into the game.
“The way you come out and let a team have (10) straight points to start the (third) quarter is totally unacceptable,” Casey said. “We’re not going to win anything if we come out with that attitude.”
Toronto regained a 12-point lead and control of the game on a 3-pointer by Lowry with 3:08 to play.
“That’s great,” Casey said, “but you’re not going to outshoot people in this league. We had too many boneheaded things. We shot too soon in the first and second quarters.”
“We just made some mistakes,” said Hornets reserve forward Frank Kaminsky, who had 18 points and seven rebounds. “We came down, we could have worked for a better shot, but that’s the way it goes. We didn’t get a stop, they had big 3 and that was pretty much the game.
“We fought so hard to get back into it after digging ourselves such a big hole, and it wasn’t enough. We have to start games better than that, especially on the road.”
Jonas Valanciunas added 12 points and seven rebounds, and Powell had 10 points off the bench for the Raptors (13-7), who won their second straight.
Dwight Howard had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte (8-12). Jeremy Lamb added 18 points, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist contributed 12 and Batum 10 points for the Hornets, who lost their third straight.
“You are playing without one of your two best players, that’s when guys step up, and it was nothing but,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said.
A 3-pointer by C.J. Miles gave Toronto a 13-point lead with 1:33 to play in the first quarter, which ended 32-25 in favor of the Raptors.
The Hornets crept to within four points early in the second quarter on a 3-point shot by Kaminsky, but the Raptors pulled away again and led 71-52 when Lowry hit a 3-pointer to end the scoring in the first half.
Lowry had 19 first-half points and DeRozan had 13. Kaminsky led the Hornets with 10 points before the break.
“The first half, there was no fight,” Clifford said. “DeRozan whatever he wanted, Lowry whatever he wanted. They took us apart with no readiness. It was a little bit better in the second half, but it is not at all what I expected to see, incredibly disappointing.”
The Hornets scored the first 10 points of the third quarter, six by Howard and four by Kidd-Gilchrist, to trim the lead to nine.
“We have to figure it out,” DeRozan said. “Especially when we have a lead because we have to understand that teams are not going to lay down.”
Twice last week, the Raptors let halftime leads slip away in the third quarter and lost to the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers.
“I don’t know,” Lowry said. “I think the big thing for our third quarters is getting stops. I think that’s where we are at our best and I think we get off to a fast start offensively, but we just need to find a way to get stops defensively.”
Howard made two free throws with eight minutes left in the third quarter to cut Toronto’s lead to two.
The Raptors led 93-85 after three quarters.
“What we didn’t do in the first half we started to do in the second half,” Kaminsky said. “It wasn’t enough. We started talking on defense, playing with some energy, attacking then instead of playing so passive and letting them do whatever they wanted.”
NOTES: With Charlotte G Kemba Walker (left shoulder AC contusion) missing his first game of the season Wednesday, G Michael Carter-Williams made his first start of the season. He finished with nine points, five assists and six rebounds. G Malik Monk was the backup point guard, and he also had nine points. Walker was injured during the second half of the loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. He returned to that game but did not practice Monday and Tuesday. ... Toronto G DeMar DeRozan scored two points in a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday to end his streak of 113 straight games with 10 or more points. G Kyle Lowry holds the team record with 114. ... The Hornets visit the Miami Heat on Friday. ... The Raptors host the Indiana Pacers on Friday.