Raptors 98, Hornets 92

BY foxsports • December 22, 2009

Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets felt great after picking up a big win against Denver on Friday night.

That feeling was gone by the time the weekend was over.

Chris Bosh had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Andrea Bargnani had 13 points and 11 boards and the Toronto Raptors beat New Orleans 98-92 on Sunday.

``This was a winnable game for us,'' Paul said. ``We just didn't come out with any type of intensity. Same story, different night. We didn't defend, all that same stuff just keeps on happening.''

Jarrett Jack had 15 points and Hedo Turkoglu scored 14 for the Raptors, who held the Hornets to 39 percent shooting. Jack and Turkoglu also had seven assists apiece, and Amir Johnson added a season-high 12 rebounds.

David West had 21 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans, which lost for the 11th time in 13 road games. Paul, who had 30 points and a season-high 19 assists in Friday's 98-92 victory, finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

``It was a difficult afternoon for us offensively,'' Hornets coach Jeff Bower said. ``Toronto made us work for every shot we got. They played a strong defensive game.''

Paul made just three of 13 shots but said his poor showing had nothing to do with a recurrence of the left ankle injury that forced him to miss eight games earlier this season.

``I was fine. I just couldn't make a shot,'' Paul said.

With starting guard Jose Calderon still sidelined by a sore left hip, the Raptors used Jack and Marcus Banks to keep Paul bottled up, with Banks earning praise from coach Jay Triano for his efforts.

``The one thing Marcus can do is defend,'' Triano said. ``(Paul) tried to post him up a couple of times in the third and Marcus was very strong and did a good job holding his ground. He's been taking advantage of the chances he has had to play right now. He stays ready, he works out all the time and is ready to go.''

Toronto led 92-85 with 2:16 to play before an Emeka Okafor dunk, a Paul steal and two free throws by West, and a free throw by Okafor made it 92-90 with 1:20 left. Okafor finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

It was still a two-point game with 47 seconds to go when Bosh fought off West to grab the rebound on Bargnani's missed 3-pointer, then finished to make it 96-92. After Paul turned it over, Sonny Weems made one of two at the line.

Devin Brown missed a jumper and Johnson was fouled as he grabbed the rebound, making one of two from the line. The Hornets missed another 3-pointer and Jack grabbed the rebound, allowing the Raptors to run out the clock.

``We had a couple of shots right there at point blank that we needed,'' West said.

Toronto trailed 67-66 before Weems fed DeMar DeRozan for a breakaway alley-oop dunk with 4:34 left in the third, sparking a 10-2 run that gave the Raptors a seven-point edge heading into the fourth.

Close friends off the court, Weems and DeRozan also have established good chemistry on it.

``They can both jump so it's either I dunk or you dunk, one of the two, especially in the open court,'' Bosh said.

Paul hobbled off with a sore ankle early in the second but the Raptors couldn't take advantage - they trailed 41-38 when Paul returned about six minutes later. Toronto closed the quarter on a 7-2 run and led 51-47 at the break.

``We've been doing a very good job of closing out quarters and taking advantage of that,'' Bower said. ``Tonight was the opposite.''

NOTES: The Raptors are an NBA-best 10-0 when holding opponents below 100 points. ... All 10 starters reached double digits in scoring. ... Hornets guard Morris Peterson, Toronto's franchise leader in games played at 542, was honored as part of the Raptors' 15th anniversary celebrations, and received a standing ovation. ... Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch attended the game.

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