Raptors 97, Hornets 92 (F)

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 31 (AP) -- Chris Bosh suspected the Toronto Raptors grew up a little during an arduous seven-game road trip on Western Conference courts.

They way they finished it off confirmed it.

Bosh scored 29 points and the Raptors rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the New Orleans Hornets 97-92 on Monday night.

"We just have more experience. We know we have to come out each and every game tough and with energy. We have to believe in ourselves,'' Bosh said. "They made a run. Nobody panicked. As soon as the crowd started getting into it, everybody was like, 'OK, calm down, let's make plays.'''

The Hornets' winning streak ended at five after Chris Paul, perhaps exhausted from a 44-minute effort, committed a turnover with just over a minute to go and then missed a pair of crucial free throws that could have given New Orleans the lead with 25.8 seconds left.

It was a bitter end to an otherwise strong performance for the Hornets' star point guard, who finished with 23 points, 16 assists and seven rebounds.

"You don't think that would happen,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said of Paul's mistakes. "We just did a lot that was uncharacteristic of our team. It goes back to the beginning of the game with a lack of focus and it caught up with us in the end.''

A week ago, the Raptors appeared to be sliding with consecutive road losses at Portland, Seattle and Phoenix. It wasn't going to get any easier with three more games at San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans.

But an upset of the Spurs helped the Raptors win two of their last three and finish the trip at 3-4.

"You would have liked for it to be a little better, but it could have been a lot worse,'' Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to the players. A long trip like this, they just hung in there. They could have easily packed it in.''

Toronto guard Jose Calderon had 17 points and 12 assists against New Orleans and hit a pair of free throws with 5.9 seconds left, forcing the Hornets to set up a potential tying 3-pointer. Peja Stojakovic's off-balance attempt missed the hoop and Toronto secured the rebound as well as the victory.

Anthony Parker scored 19 for Toronto, including a fast-break layup that cut Toronto's deficit to 86-85 before Calderon hit a 3-pointer to put the Raptors back in the lead with 3:11 to go.

New Orleans regained the lead once more on a basket by David West, who finished with 33 points and 11 rebounds. Then Bosh converted a driving layup as he was fouled to put Toronto in the lead for good.

Andrea Bargnani added 17 points for the Raptors, which shot 51.4 percent in winning for the second time in three games. Jamario Moon had 10 rebounds.

The Hornets shot 43.4 percent and played the last five minutes without Tyson Chandler, who fouled out. But more than the loss of Chandler, New Orleans was done in by its struggles from behind the arc, where the Hornets were 5-of-26.

Stojakovic finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

"We just came out with the wrong effort,'' West said. "They've got a team full of guys who can shoot the basketball and we can't keep pace. ... We just went cold.''

Coming off a loss in Houston two nights earlier, Toronto started fast, shooting 75 percent in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Kris Humphries' driving floater as he was fouled was called good on a goaltend and he hit the free throw to put the Raptors ahead 37-25.

The Hornets missed their first 10 3-pointers and shot 35.3 percent overall through the first 18 minutes.

Stojakovic finally hit New Orleans' first 3-pointer with 1:07 left in the second period, part of a 7-2 run that helped the Hornets pull to 52-48 at halftime.

New Orleans surged into the lead in the third quarter as West scored six quick points and Morris Peterson sank a 3-pointer. Paul's jumper at the end of the third period ignited a 9-0 run that continued into the final quarter as New Orleans took an 81-71 lead.

The Raptors refused to fold. Calderon and Bosh responded with back-to-back jumpers, followed by Parker's dunk and Bosh's free throws for an 8-0 run of their own.

"You have to play like that every time on the road, especially against good teams,'' Bosh said. "You come in their house, if you don't start off the game aggressive, you're going to get run out. We kind of had a little slippage in the middle of the game, but we ended well so it's good for us.''

Notes: Bobby Jackson hit a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer that was initially ruled good, but overturned when video review showed the ball did not leave Jackson's hands before the clock ran out. ... The Hornets promoted the contest as "Ladies Night,'' offering free entry to women who printed vouchers off of the team Web site. Still, competing with the French Quarter nightlife on New Year's Eve proved challenging. Attendance was announced as 11,444.

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