Notebook: Raptors 102, Hornets 89

Posted Feb 10, 2013 10:00 PM

Josh Lewenberg, for

THE FACTS: After flirting with disaster for most of the first three quarters, the Toronto Raptors (19-32) cruised to a 102-89 victory over the New Orleans Hornets (17-34) at the Air Canada Centre Sunday night. Toronto outscored the visiting Hornets 33-23 during a deciding fourth quarter led by its second unit and the team's newest player.

Rudy Gay had a game-high 20 points, leading the Raptors in scoring for the fifth consecutive contest. Gay -- one of six Raptors to score in double figures -- poured in eight points during the final frame, assisted by reserve John Lucas III who added 10 of his 19 in the quarter. Kyle Lowry (14 points, 10 assists) and Jonas Valanciunas (11 points, 10 rebounds) each registered double-doubles while Amir Johnson scored 14 and Alan Anderson chipped in with 11 off the bench.

The Hornets fell behind early, allowing Toronto to shoot 67 percent in the opening quarter. Despite opening the second with a 12-0 run New Orleans was unable to slow down the Raptors, who outscored them 16-7 on the break. Robin Lopez had a team-best 19 points on the evening, Greivis Vasquez tallied 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists while reserves Ryan Anderson and Brian Roberts scored 15 and 13 respectively.

QUOTABLE: "I challenged the second unit at halftime. We struggled a little bit in the first half when the second unit gave up a 10 point lead, but [I] challenged them [to come] in being ready to play, perform, you can't play the starters 48 minutes and they came in and played [in] the second half."
-- Raptors coach Dwane Casey.

THE STAT: The Raptors held a 39-33 advantage on the boards, outrebounding their opponent for a season-best sixth straight game. Toronto grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 19 second chance points compared to just eight off of six offensive boards for New Orleans.

TURNING POINT: Although the Raptors maintained their lead for the duration of the second half, New Orleans hung around until Toronto's bench engineered a 12-4 run midway through the fourth quarter. Led by Lucas, the Raptors' reserves stretched Toronto's advantage to 13 and the Hornets were never able to recover.

QUOTABLE II: "It meant so much. The fact that we played through not just an overtime game but an emotional game a couple nights before, it was good for us to actually be able to cruise to it at the end of this game."
-- Raptors forward Gay.

HOT: Lucas played the entire fourth, scoring 10 of his season-high tying 19 points in the quarter. Toronto's backup point guard shot 7-for-11 from the field, including a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range

NOT: Coming off a season-best 27-point performance in the Hornets win over Atlanta on Friday, Eric Gordon scored just six points on 2-of-7 shooting, turning the ball over six times.

NOTABLE: Andrea Bargnani was a late scratch for the Raptors, battling flu-like symptoms. Bargnani missed 26 straight games with a torn elbow tendon before returning and coming off the bench in Toronto's previous two contests. ... Valanciunas replaced Aaron Gray in the Raptors' starting lineup, making his first start since fracturing his finger on December 21st. ... Landry Fields (back spasms) returned from a three-game absence, scoring four points in 18 minutes off the bench. Gay has scored 20 or more points in each of his first five games with Toronto becoming the first player in franchise history to accomplish that feat. ... Blue Jays legend and World Series winner Joe Carter was in attendance for the Raptors win.

UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Monday @ Detroit, Wednesday vs. Portland. For the Raptors, Tuesday vs. Denver, Wednesday @ New York.