NEW ORLEANS – Kyle Lowry didn’t start against the Hornets. He certainly finished them off, though.
DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and Lowry, back from a partial triceps tear that kept him out of seven straight games, had two huge baskets in overtime as the Toronto Raptors held off New Orleans 104-97 on Friday night.
The Raptors, who never trailed in the second half, scored nine of the first 11 points in overtime after blowing a seven-point lead in the last 1:30 of regulation. Amir Johnson scored under the basket to give Toronto a 93-91 lead. Lowry then drove the baseline for a reverse layup and hit a 3-pointer to make it 98-93.
New Orleans never got closer than five the rest of the way.
“We came out with a fury (in overtime),” Lowry said. “We came out shooting to win the game.”
Toronto coach Dwane Casey kept Lowry’s replacement, Jose Calderon, in the starting lineup at point guard, saying before the game that Calderon had “earned it” when the Raptors recently won five in a row. Both players were on the floor at the start of overtime, when Lowry hit his two biggest shots.
He finished with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, with a team-high eight assists and zero turnovers in 27:31.
“He was a little rusty and got a little winded,” Casey said. “That’s why I had to get him out a little bit. But his aggression helped us, his toughness helped us.”
Lowry was conscious of not trying to force too much, an issue before he got hurt. Toronto had been 2-14 in the 16 games he played and 7-6 in games he missed.
This time, he helped the Raptors overcome a tough shooting night from Calderon, who went 1 of 6 but had six assists.
“The last couple of weeks, the team has been moving the ball really well,” Lowry said. “I just wanted to keep that going and not try to do too much. Jose is a great player and he made great decisions. He spaces us very well and makes our job a lot easier.”
DeRozan hit two free throws and an outside shot that made the score 102-95 with 31.7 seconds left. Alan Anderson added 14 points for the Raptors.
Rookie big man Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 25 points and nine rebounds. Greivis Vaszquez added 20 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, falling just shy of his first career triple-double.
The Raptors won for just the third time in 18 road games. The Hornets fell to 3-12 at home and 0-3 in overtime.
With Toronto leading 85-83, DeRozan scored on a driving layup, then stole Austin Rivers’ pass and converted a three-point play to make the score 90-83 with 1:38 left.
The Hornets responded with a 3-pointer from Brian Roberts and a driving layup by Vasquez to cut the margin to 90-88. After DeRozan sank one of two free throws, the Hornets’ Ryan Anderson drained a tying 3-pointer that hit the rim twice before falling in with 8.1 seconds left.
DeRozan had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but his fallaway from the baseline clanged off the rim.
The Hornets hardly hit anything in overtime, going 2 of 11 from the field.
“That was huge, no question,” Casey said. “Those are the kind of big-time plays we’ve struggled with sometimes, but tonight we got it.”
The Hornets tied the score three times in the third quarter and again on Ryan Anderson’s clutch 3-pointer near the end of regulation but could not pull ahead. Vasquez missed an open 3 in overtime that would have given them a 96-95 lead.
“The energy we expended to come back in the fourth may have hurt us in overtime,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “You have to tip our hat to (the Raptors). They did what they needed to do in overtime.”
Lowry scored a fast-break layup off Ryan Anderson’s turnover to spark a run that put the Raptors up 81-68 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Hornets responded with a quick 8-0 spurt on a three-point play by Davis, two free throws from Vasquez and a 3-pointer by Ryan Anderson that cut the deficit to 83-78 with 4:04 left.
“We had that momentum to force overtime,” Davis said. “We tried to use all of our energy and momentum from the crowd to stay in the game, but we were not making shots. We were missing layups. It’s tough because we had a second chance to get back in the game.”
Toronto scored 23 points off 16 New Orleans turnovers. The Hornets forced only seven miscues, getting five points off them.
The Raptors also took advantage of several Hornets droughts. New Orleans missed 11 of its last 14 shots in the first half and went cold in the second half, making only three field goals from the 3:30 mark of the third quarter to the 6:15 mark of the fourth.
The Raptors led 48-42 at halftime despite shooting 16 of 41 from the floor (39 per cent) and 1 of 12 from 3-point range.
NOTES: Hornets reserve forward Jason Smith returned from a seven-game absence due to a torn labrum, scoring two points in 12:10. … Toronto outscored New Orleans 49-31 off the bench. … Hornets centre Robin Lopez, who has 85 points in his last four games, finished with nine on 3-of-8 shooting. … Ryan Anderson had a game-high 12 rebounds.