Big Easy Not So Easy For Raps

I can't remember the last recap I wrote without mention of an injury off the top. Sad isn't it. But add Linas Kleiza to the walking wounded sitting this one out with a sore right knee. The Raptors depth at small forward is pretty non existent. Julian Wright got 48 minutes in him? Likely not, the Raptors would have the get creative it would appear. Bayless would remain out as well and Barbosa, Weems, Evans and Peja all not on the trip. Also they had two disgruntled former employees to deal with in Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli both traded to the Hornets in separate deals. David Andersen was also part of that deal but really was not with the Raptors that long. It looked be a long afternoon for the short handed Raptors.

Raptors had 9 healthy bodies for this one. Let that sink in for a moment. It was going be tough. Hornet win the tap and score. Julian Wright the sole survivor at the small forward spot with a rebound but picked up an offensive foul. Demar DeRozan matched up against former Raptor Marco Belinelli and gets a call on break and makes the free throws and Raptors had first lead of the day at 3-2. Bargnani 2 ugly misses and he did not look good in the early going. Amir Johnson was hustling something that Chris Bosh would not appreciate. Got a nice basket but then a foul. A DeRozan bucket and Raptors were off to a 7-2 lead. Julian Wright with a serious slam and Raptors had a 9-5 lead and Hornets took a time out to figure out what the heck was going on here.

This game was off to a slow start and both teams were finding it a challenge to score early. Maybe the strange Monday afternoon start time was the reason. Hornets got on a run and took the lead thanks to Raptor turnovers. Four of them to this point and Jay Triano called a time out with the Raptors down 11-9. Raps would tie it up out of the time out, with just 4:09 to play it was 11-11. Okafor was doing work in paint and was rewarded with a score then West with a hook and Hornets had a 4 point lead. Jose Calderon was totally out of control and a pass for Julian Wright was well off the mark. Hornets score on the following possession and another turnover turned into points and it was 20-12. The Raptors would claw back and get a couple buckets before the quarter ended but the Hornets led 20-16 after 1.

Andersen and Bargnani get to know each other again as Bargnani is fouled. Another foul would send Dorsey to the line and he would split 2. Andrea Bargnani finally gets a bucket following up on a Jose miss and he was fouled and makes the and 1. Raptors trialled 22-20. Raptors would keep rolling and take the lead 24-22 on an Amir Johnson basket and Bargnani 3 made it 27-22 and Raptors were on a 15-2 run. Gaines got a 3 to extend the lead to 30-24. Raptors were fighting to maintain the advantage but an Ariza 3 would cut their lead to 4. Raptors were struggling to find an answer on how to stop West or Okafor in the post. They were doing a good job with Chris Paul though who by and large was a non-factor in this one to this point. Raptors had a 7 point lead with 2 to play could they close out the quarter? The answer would be yes they keep the 7 point lead and take it to the half with the score 44-37.

Hornets score first to open 2nd half but then Julian Wright would drive and score to answer and a turnover leads to a Amir Joohnson score. He would score again after a Belinelli bucket. Chris Paul got to the line and made a pair. Johnson had come out and was going like gang busters and he had 12 points and Raptors had a 52-43 lead with under 9 to play in 3rd. DeRozan could not finish and instead of a 11 point Raptor lead the Hornets got an uncontested score and lead was 7. But the Raptors would continue to fight lead by Julian Wright's effort the would build the lead to 12. A DeRozan missed jumper for 2 and then Jarrett Jack a 3 on the other end of the floor. DeRozan says screw the jumper and drives to the hoop with the aggressive throw down. Hornets would answer then DeRozan again going back to the jumper and sticking it this time and Raptors led 61-50.

Chris Paul got fouled made a couple then stuck a jumper. David West the score off a Calderon turnover and suddenly Hornets were back in it 61-56. Calderon had 6 turnovers in the game already. Calderon found a favourite target in Amir Johnson out a time out for an easy to for Amir. Gaines goes glass and it was 65-56 Raptors. Jarrett Jack gets a foul line jumper. Hornets had 5 chances to score and missed them all but kept getting it back and eventual got foul on Ed Davis. It was non shooting but the 6th try would be unsuccessful as well and they finally got a rebound. Offensive foul on the Raps and turnover. Hornets were closing the quarter strong and getting some calls going there way. A Jack runner cut the lead to just 3 and the Raptors took a 65-62 lead to 4th.

DeRozan started the 4th strong with 2 baskets and an and 1 free throw. Jack was heating up and he had an answer to make it 70-64 Raptors. Jack hooks up Okafor for the easy two points and the Hornets had cut the advantage to just 4. Bargnani still cold as the weather outside my door missing another 3. Andrea was a train wreck missing a few more and a turnover and Hornets were being handed chance after chance to tie this one up but failing to this point as Raptors were fortunate to still have a 70-68 lead. Bargnani finally made a shot after a Triano time out. David West would answer that score. Julian Wright got benefit of a goaltending call and he will get the 2 and Raptors led 74-70. Wright would get another basket as well he was going against his former team as well and giving a nice showing. Raptors had a 76-72 lead. Jack had come alive in this 2nd half as he sticks a jumper on the move. Hornets would draw to level at 76. Jack abuses Calderon and drives to bucket to give the Hornets the lead 78-76.

Some confusion as Amir Johnson made a basket and should have been and 1 but not sure what happen there. Memories of Atlanta scorer keepers dancing in my head. At the end of it all the Raptors were ahead 79-78 but it should have been more? Another call goes against the Raps on an out of bounce call as Hornets now led 80-79. A couple extra possessions but Hornets fail to cash in. A lose ball foul on Amir Johnson and that was his 5th with 1:25 to go. It was a 1 for 2 effort at the line and Hornets led 81-79. DeRozan gets to the line and ties it up at 81 he had 23 in the game. Hornets came down and got a quick basket. DeRozan drives wanted a foul call but got none and instead it was ruled out of bounds of his thigh. Another no call for Amir Johnson and West would go to the line and ice it for the 85-81 win.

Yes there was some questionable calls down the stretch. But if Bragnani showed up and if Calderon did a better job of taking care of the basketball this could have been a win. But it wasn't and the losing streak extends to 4 games with Spurs, Magic and Heat on the Horizon. Yes these are tough times.

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