Williams, Hornets top Raptors 103-94 in tech-filled game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Mo Williams is playing so well that Hornets coach Steve Clifford has no plans to sit the 12-year NBA veteran even when Kemba Walker returns from a knee injury next week.
Clifford said he plans to play Walker and Williams together because ''they're two of our best three scorers.''
Williams proved that again Friday night.
Williams made four 3-pointers and scored 23 points, Al Jefferson had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and the Hornets beat the Toronto Raptors 103-94 in a game featuring six technical fouls handed out by longtime referee Joey Crawford.
Jefferson was 11 of 21 from the field en route to his team-leading 19th double-double of the season. Williams had 15 points in the second half as the Hornets won their fourth straight game. It was a big win for Charlotte, which entered the night in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Williams has averaged 21.8 points and 8.8 assists in the eight games since being acquired from Minnesota before the All-Star game.
''Mo is going to play a lot and I'm going to play (him and Walker) together,'' said Clifford, although he indicated both probably won't start. ''You always try to find a way to get your best players on the floor.''
Williams said he's ready to pair with Walker and feels comfortable if asked to move to the shooting guard, something he's done before in his career.
He's shooting 42 percent (27 of 64) from beyond the arc in Charlotte.
''We are trying to make this playoff run and it's all about doing whatever it takes to win,'' Williams said. ''Whatever position he puts me in I'm pretty sure it is a position to be successful and do whatever is needed to help this team win.''
Crawford made his presence felt, twice assessing double technical fouls.
The first time he slapped Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jonas Valanciunas when they went chest-to-chest. He later got Gerald Henderson and Terrence Ross when they appeared to exchange words, even though Henderson made an effort to walk away from the confrontation.
Crawford also hit James Johnson late when he pushed Cody Zeller, and Lance Stephenson was given a ''T'' when he threw an elbow as he ran back down court in separate incidents.
''Joey doesn't take any mess. He's going to let you know, hey, we are going to act accordingly today,'' Williams said. ''I thought we did a good job of keeping our composure when it started to get out of hand.''
DeMar DeRozan had 30 points on 14-of-26 shooting for Toronto. The Raptors have lost seven of their last eight games.
''We play defense in spurt,'' DeRozan said. ''We look good in spurts and you know, we get stagnant a little bit and give them a little bit of rhythm, give them a little run and then we fight back. We're just so up and down with that.''
Kyle Lowry returned to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with what he described after the game as ''dislocated fingers and swelling'' and scored 25 points in 37 minutes.
''I knew I was going to have a little bit of rust'' Lowry said. ''I started to get a little bit of rhythm in the game so hopefully it's something I can build off of.''
The Hornets have beaten the Raptors eight straight times at home.
Charlotte led 80-75 early in the fourth quarter before going on a 17-3 run highlighted by a highlight real no-look bounce pass from Stephenson to Zeller for a dunk. Stephenson began celebrating the pass even before Zeller elevated, racing back down the court with his arm stretched wide and big smile on his face.
Raptors: Lou Williams came in having scored 20 points off the bench in each of the last three games, but managed just four points against the Hornets.
Hornets: Stephenson is shooting 14 percent from beyond the 3-point arc this season.
The Hornets missed a chance to make it five straight games with all five starters finishing in double figures in scoring when Kidd-Gilchrist was held to eight points. The other four starters finished with at least 10 points.
Raptors: At Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
Hornets: At Detroit on Sunday night.