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Raptors turn back Hornets

Toronto – DeMar Rozan and the Toronto Raptors found their groove with just enough time left to make a move on the Charlotte Hornets.

DeRozan had 23 point and Kyle Lowry added 18 points and a season-high 11 assists as the Raptors pulled out a 104-94 victory over the Hornets on Friday night.

“We finally got into a rhythm, got a couple of stops and that’s all we needed,” DeRozan said. “We had a couple of possessions where we were going back and forth and they were scoring. We just understood that if we got some stops and some big buckets we would be right back in the game and we would be able to take the lead.”

Toronto entered the final quarter trailing by eight points and took the lead for the first time since the second quarter on a 3-pointer from Lowry with 8:30 to go. With the score tied at 94 about four minutes later, the Raptors ran off the final 10 points of the game – back-to-back 3-pointers from Lowry and DeMarre Carrollhelped seal the win.

Charlotte missed its last eight field-goal attempts, shooting just 19 percent in the fourth quarter.

Jonas Valanciunas, in just his third game back after missing 17 games with a broken left hand, had his team-leading sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Toronto relied heavily on its outside shooting to avenge the 109-99 loss in Charlotte last month, matching a season-high with 15 3-pointers on 33 attempts. But Raptors coach Dwane Casey was less impressed with the 39.6 percent that his team shot from the field on the night.

“I’d love to shoot 45, 47, 48 (percent), but right now we’re kind of discombobulated offensively, timing is off, guys are not exactly in the right places, and trying to get everybody back in,” he said. “And we’ll get there, but it’s going to take a little time, it’s a little bumpy right now.”

The Hornets looked at the loss as a missed opportunity, particularly after taking the eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, but for coach Steve Clifford, that edge should have been more.

“We were right there,” he said. “We should have been up eight, 10, 12 at the end of the third. I think it’s pretty simple.”