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Late Raptors Surge Stings Hornets

Related: Box Score | Photo Gallery | #RTZ Tweet Of The Night
Top Plays: J. Johnson's Putback Slam | Davis Denies Belinelli | Barbosa Buzzer Beater
Post Game: Dwane Casey | DeMar DeRozan | Linas Kleiza | Leandro Barbosa

February 29, 2012

NEW ORLEANS (CP) The Toronto Raptors followed their worst quarter of the season with their best.

Linas Kleiza and DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points apiece and Toronto rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets 95-84 on Wednesday night.

The Raptors, who trailed 69-62 after tying a season low for points in a quarter with 11 in the third, broke loose for 33 in the fourth _ matching a season best for any period. They hit their first eight shots and took control by scoring 22 points in the first 4:22.

``It was all on us,'' DeRozan said. ``They weren't doing anything to stop us or get us off. We knew we were going to put it together in the fourth quarter.''

Kleiza tied a career high with five three-pointers off the bench, including three in the fourth. Leandro Barbosa, another reserve, added 15 points.

The Raptors, unable to finish in an 88-85 loss at Houston on Tuesday, made almost everything down the stretch against the Hornets. The win snapped a five-game road losing streak.

``We moved the ball very well,'' Barbosa said. ``That was the difference between last night and tonight. We're getting better and we're growing.''

Marco Belinelli had 20 points for the Hornets, who missed 13 consecutive shots in the fourth quarter and lost for the 16th straight time after trailing at the half. Chris Kaman added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

``Our defence just went downhill,'' Hornets coach Monty Williams said. ``We couldn't guard the ball.''

  RAPTORS REMARKS

"It was different than we did last night. We made shots down the stretch and executed. I was the most proud of our guys down the stretch."
-- Dwane Casey, on the win
"We finished plays and we made baskets. I think that was the difference between last night and tonight. We’re getting better and we’re growing. Coach has been helping us a lot and we’re very happy about that."
-- Leandro Barbosa, on closing it out
"You live and you learn. Probably in a couple years from now when I’m a vet I can tell a young guy 'don’t do this' or something like that."
-- DeMar DeRozan, on tweeting out of frustration

The game turned quickly at the start of the fourth after Toronto missed 17 of 21 shots in the third, getting outscored 23-11.

DeRozan scored on a floater, Kleiza drilled a three-pointer and Barbosa converted a transition layup to tie the score right away, prompting a New Orleans timeout with 10:43 left.

The Raptors did not cool down. Kleiza hit another three on their next possession for a 72-71 lead. Jerryd Bayless responded to a three by Belinelli with a three the next time down the court. After Belinelli sank another three, Barbosa hit a mid-range shot, Bayless made two free throws and Barbosa made a three from the corner to give Toronto an 82-77 lead with 7:38 left.

Kleiza finished off the Hornets with his fifth three-pointer, a 25-footer, to put Toronto ahead 89-81 with 3:25 left.

The final margin was Toronto's largest lead of the night.

``These are the games we are supposed to win,'' DeRozan said. ``We are still in the hunt. We've got four home games and have to take advantage of that. Once we start doing that, things will start looking better.''

  BY THE NUMBERS

2-3 Raptors record all-time on Leap Day
5 3-point makes for Linas Kleiza, tying his career high
10 Total turnovers for the Raptors
5 Blocks for Amir Johnson, tying his season-high
41-21 Bench scoring favouring the Raptors

The Hornets turned a 51-46 halftime deficit into a 69-62 lead by limiting the Raptors to one basket in the last seven minutes of the third quarter. New Orleans went ahead for the first time since the first quarter, 60-58, on Trevor Ariza's layup. The Hornets extended the advantage to seven when reserve Solomon Jones scored back-to-back baskets in the final minute, getting the ball to fall in after rolling around the rim both times.

Toronto's shots hit nothing but net to start the fourth quarter. DeRozan, who sent out a two-word tweet with an expletive 43 minutes after he was benched for the fourth quarter against Houston, was in a much better frame of mind Wednesday.

He played all 12 minutes of the fourth against New Orleans, scoring seven points.

``When you are a competitor and you're losing, it definitely gets to you,'' he said. ``I didn't mean any harm by it. Everybody has moments like that. You live and you learn.''

Jose Calderon sank all four of his shots, including a pair of threes to give Toronto a 29-25 lead by the end of the first quarter.

New Orleans point guard Jarrett Jack, coming off the bench for the sixth consecutive game after missing seven in a row with sore knees, struggled for almost all of the first half. He hit the backboard on the fly with a three-point attempt and shot an airball from 17 feet that Kaman grabbed for a layup.

Jack scored his only baskets of the half on back-to-back layups in the last 10.5 seconds and finished 3 of 12 from the field.

``I'm going to put this one on my shoulders squarely,'' he said. ``This team looks to me for a lot, and I have to be the captain. I want to be that guy. I want the ball.''

NOTES: Toronto coach Dwane Casey said before the game he had addressed DeRozan's tweet internally and moved on. DeRozan led the Raptors with 17 points against Houston and averaged 21.6 points in his last five games before playing New Orleans. ... Toronto's leading scorer, Andrea Bargnani, missed his 16th straight game with a calf injury. ... Toronto forward Amir Johnson blocked five shots, including two layup attempts in a row by Kaman.