Lowry sizzles as Raptors sting Hornets

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) signals a play change in the second half of NBA basketball action against the Charlotte Hornets in Toronto on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

TORONTO (CP) — Dwane Casey called his team’s third quarter effort on Wednesday night mind-boggling. With the Raptors leading 71-52 at halftime, the Charlotte Hornets came out of the break on a 19-2 run and cut Toronto’s lead to two points

The Raptors rebounded in the fourth and defeated the Hornets 126-113 on a season-high 36-point performance from Kyle Lowry, but all the talk post-game was about Toronto’s lacklustre third quarter.

“The way you come out and let a team go nine straight points to start the quarter, that’s totally unacceptable,” said Casey. “We’re not going to win anything if we come out with that attitude.

“We’ve got to fix it. We’ve talked about it. Other than starting five other people, I don’t know what to do.”

DeMar DeRozan looked sharp after injuring his knee in a win at Atlanta on Saturday. DeRozan, who finished with just two points in 27 minutes of action against the Hawks, had 30 points and six assists in the win.

“We’ve got to figure (the third quarter) out, especially when we have a lead because we’ve got to understand teams are not just going to lay down,” said DeRozan. “Teams are not just going to come out in the second half and just give us another 10-15 point lead on top of our lead.”

The Raptors (13-7) have won eight of their past nine meetings with the Hornets and improve to 7-1 on home court this season.

Lowry finished with a career-high eight three-pointers made while shooting 12 for 18 from the field and added six assists. He becomes just the fifth player in franchise history to record eight three-pointers in a single game.

“I didn’t know how many threes I hit until after the game ‘cause DeMar told me,” said Lowry. “I think it’s just the flow of the game: you go out there and you just play and I think air-balled the first one, it hit the side of the backboard and then I just kept shooting.”

The Hornets used a 7-0 surge cutting the Raptors lead down to five with 4:42 to play in the fourth, but that’s as close as they’d get. Toronto scored seven straight to push their lead to 12 with 3:08 left and led by at least nine the rest of the way.

Dwight Howard had a team-high 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season for Charlotte (8-12), which has dropped three straight. Jeremy Lamb had 18 off the bench and Frank Kaminsky chipped in with 18.

“I thought we came out more aggressive on both ends of the floor, which allowed us to get back into the game,” said Howard of the third. “But we can’t start games like that and expect to come back from a big deficit and win, especially against good teams.”

Lowry had 17 second-quarter points, giving the Raptors a 19-point cushion at the break. Lowry was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field and 3 of 3 from beyond the arc capped off with a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds left as the Raptors led 71-52 at halftime.

DeRozan had 13 first half points on 6 of 10 shooting. Norman Powell added seven off the bench.

Kaminsky paced the Hornets with 10 points off the bench.

Notes: Raptors C Lucas Nogueira left the game in the fourth quarter with a strained right calf and did not return. … Hornets G Kemba Walker missed his first game due to a left shoulder contusion. … Emmy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Moss, who stars in the Toronto-filmed “The Handmaid’s Tale,” received a jersey from the Raptors during a stoppage in the second quarter. …

Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press

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