Lots of stuff to get out of the way before we get started on injury front. First on the list is that Tyson Chandler is a scratch for today's game. Meanwhile the Raptors will have both Anthony Parker and Kris Humphries in the active roster. But the starting line-up that has been able to get two straight wins will remain with both Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon remaining in the starting line-up. Some were speculating about a trade and if it involved Parker or Humphries. But this would but an end to that for now. Still with December 15th tomorrow stay tuned for news. Doug Smith in the Toronto Star suggested the Raptors will sign Jake Voskuhl and that could mean one of two things. It could mean a trade is coming or announcement about Nathan Jawai not being able to play for the rest of the year. It is one or the other because I can not imagine the Raptors are going into the luxury tax to sign Jake Voskuhl. But enough of the trade speculation there is a game to be played. A very tough one at that as the Hornets have won 7 of their last 10 after a slow start. But they do come in off a loss to the Celtics. Seems we say that about a lot of teams when they come to visit the Raptors. Mainly because Boston is hardly losing a game and the NBA schedule maker seems to make a Boston and Toronto pairing for a lot of teams road trips. So with all of that news it is time to play some basketball.
Raptors win the tip but missed a jumper. But the Hornets quickly got it inside for a score and the first points of the afternoon. Chris Bosh after a couple failed trips for the Raptors, he would drive and get fouled and head to the line and make both. Jamario Moon would hit a 3-ball off a pass from Bosh out of a double team. A Raptor turnover lead to a 3-1 break and jam for David West. Jose Calderon would answer that with a 3-ball for him and an early 8-4 lead for Raptors. David West and Jermaine O'Neal would exchange baskets for their respective teams. Chris Bosh would trip and fall getting tied up with Hilton Armstrong. But after a moment was back on his feet and fine.
Jermaine O'Neal would get fouled and head to the line for 2 shots that he would make. Raptors continue to lead 12-6 almost half way through the quarter. Butler would get a 3 pointer for the Hornets and Jose Calderon would respond with a 2 point shot for the Raptors. A concern for the Raptors as Jose Calderon would pick up his second foul and head to the bench. Chris Paul would make the free throws and Roko Ukic who has been showing sign of improvement was in. Chris Bosh showed some hustle saving a ball from going out of bounds that would lead to a Jason Kapono 3 pointer that has become a more common sight under Jay Triano. The Raptors had a 17-11 lead. Kapono would add to his total with a two point shot this time. Andrea Bargnani would get in on the scoring with his first basket. Stojakovic would find a nice look at 3 points for him that he would make. The Hornets had pushed back to get it down to just a 21-18 Raptor lead. Andrea Bargnani with an awkward but effective drive for 2 points. James Poesy would find an open 3 point look that he would take and make and the Hornets trailed just 23-22. Jermaine O'Neal would split a pair of free throws and Raptors would take a slim 24-22 lead into the second quarter.
Despite just 2 points from Chris Bosh and an 0-5 start for him the Raptors had a lead. Antonio Daniels recently picked up in a trade for ex-raptor Mike Jame was on the floor and he missed a 3-ball on his first attempt. But the Hornets would get on the board with the first 5 points of the quarter and a 27-24 lead for the Hornets. Jermaine O'Neal would break the run with a basket for him. J.O was looking to score again but had his shot blocked and he looked like he felt he was fouled. But no call and the Hornets kept rolling with another basket. O'Neal would get an easy jam of a nice dish from Anthony Parker who was playing his first game ever as a reserve for the Raptors. Chris Bosh was able to make a shot and Raptors were back all even at 30 with the Hornets.
Jose Calderon would break the tie with a 3 pointer. Chris Bosh would find a miss match and run over an undersized Hornet for a jam. Raptors were all of the sudden hot as Calderon would score again the Raptors stormed to an 11-0 run and had a 37-30 lead. All of this with Chris Paul on the bench unable to do anything to stop it. The Hornets would call time to address what was going on and likely get Paul back in the game.
Jose Calderon looked a little gimpy after he scored but remained in the game after the time out. James Poesy would end the 11-0 run with a 3 pointer for the Hornets. After that the Hornets would get 1-2 from the line which would be answered by an AP 3 pointer. That would be followed with another Raptor basket. The Raptors had got back on track and after a couple free throws by CB4 it was 44-36. James Posey was having a good game and he hit yet another 3 pointer for him. Another two for the Hornets and another Posey 3-ball and the Hornets had an 8-0 run to tie the score at 44. This was an entertaining game for people with no real interest in the outcome. Jay Triano would not be among those and he would call a time out and try to address the leaks that were leading to James Posey getting some open looks.
Chris Paul would find the ball after a Moon block and hit a nice jumper and the Hornets on a 10-0 run were back in front by just two points. Chris Paul would drive and kick to Peja Stojakovic who would drain another 3 pointer. The Hornets had stayed in this game thanks to the 3-ball. They had built their largest lead of the day of five points with a 49-44 lead. James Posey would disagree with a call and get technical foul and that foul shot was made by Jose Calderon to break the run for the Hornets. Chris Bosh would head to the line on the disputed foul call and make 1-2. David West would have a basket on the inside and the Hornets lead was back at 5 points. Raptors had gone ice cold to close the quarter going 0-8 from the field. One last chance to make it closer at the half. But a Parker turn and fire from very long range would not fall. Hornets took a 51-46 lead into the locker room at the half.
Chris Bosh was only 2 for 10 and had just 9 points. The Raptors had about 18 minutes of good defense but that last 6 minutes is why they enter this half behind by 5 points. James Posey had 15 to lead the Hornets and Jose Calderon lead the Raptors with 13 first half points. Hornets were shooting 51% and the Raptors just 38%. Both teams would fail to score on their first attempts to score of the second half. Jermaino O'Neal would open up the score sheet for second half with a mid range corner jumper. Chris Paul would have an answer for that. Hilton Armstrong who was replacing Tyson Chandler would get a score on a drive to the paint. David West had a basket as well and Hornets had a 57-48 lead.
Chris Bosh would make a shot and try to change the flow of the game. But Butler would score in response. But Jose Calderon would answer that with a 3 pointer. Raps would get a second straight score and pulled back to down just four points with the score 59-55. David West was quietly having a good game and he had another basket for his totals. Chris Bosh would answer with a basket for him. Jose Calderon would follow that with another 3-ball. James Posey answer with yet another 3-ball for him. The Hornets get another score on a rare Posey miss from 3 point range after that and it was 68-62.
Bosh out of a time out would get the ball and draw a foul on David West and head to the line. Bosh would make both and he was 7-8 from the line on the day. Raptors were picking up the effort on defense but needed to cash in on offense for it to pay off. But a Bosh miss on a fading jumper was not going to get it done. Bosh was not having a good shooting day. Perhaps sensing that the next time he got the ball he would drive again and head to line once again thanks to David West that had 3 fouls now. Chris Paul after the Bosh made free throws would turn on the jets and get to the line himself. He too would make his free throws and the Hornets lead 72-66. Chris Bosh answered his team U.S.A team mate with a jumper for a score. Joey Graham would follow that with his first basket of the day and the Raptors had climbed back to down just two with score 72-70.
During the broadcast it was confirmed the Raptors have signed Jake Voskhul. It was said it will not effect the cap and no trade as part of that. Which could suggest that Nathan Jawai may be done for the year. It would seem the only logical conclusion. But Voskhul will be available as soon as tomorrow against the Nets. Meanwhile the Hornets would close the 3rd quarter on a run to take a 80-72 lead into the 4th quarter. The Raptors had trouble closing quarters and that has been a major difference in this game and could be a deciding one.
Both teams would start the quarter cold as the Raptors had to missed shots and a turnover. But the Hornets also had failed to score. We were over 2 minutes into the fourth and still no one had scored. Jason Kapono 3- ball would not fall and the scoreless battle would continue. Butler would break the scoreless drought with a big 3 pointer on off a short shot clock. Jermaine O'Neal would get a 2 in response. Hornets would answer with a two pointer of their own. Bosh would then head back to the line and had a rare miss going just 1-2 and the score was 85-75 Hornets. Bosh was right back at it after a failed Hornet trip. He would score and get fouled and make the extra point pulling the Raptors to down 7 points. Peja would get a two point response for the Hornets. But Jose Calderon would get a 3 pointer for the Raptors. Both teams had got back to scoring but the Raptors were not in a position to trade buckets as they trailed 89-81 at the mid point of the 4th quarter.
Chris Paul would swipe away the ball for his first steal of the day. That was significant as he had a streak going that was the second longest in league history. He trails former Raptor Alvin Robertson who holds the record for most consecutive games with a steal. But the steal would not turn into points and the Raptors would actually score and cut the lead down to just 6 points. But a missed 3 pointer and a turnover cost the Raptors two more chances to cut into the Hornet lead. Butler off a Chris Paul pass would hit a very big 3 pointer for the Hornets to make the lead 9 points. J.O would score a two in response but time was running out and the Raptors may regret not getting closer when they had the chance.
Jason Kapono had two chances to make a 3 pointer and missed both. Jamario Moon would hustle to get the offensive board on the second miss and make a pair from the line. Raptors trailed 92-87. But the Hornet showed poise and came down and scored to make the lead 7 once again. Chris Bosh would get fouled but could not score and would have to settle for just two free throws. Bosh would make both but the Raptors were down 5 with just 1:24 to play. Butler would get another key 3 pointer off a Paul find and that was about it for the Raptors chances. Hornets had a 97-89 lead and there was not enough time for Raptors to forge a comeback. J.O was at the line with 56 seconds left and he made both. The raptors tried to get a stop but instead fouled David West and he would go to the line with just 31 seconds left and this was over. It would be a 99-91 win for the New Orleans Hornets.
Raptors were competitive but not good enough to beat a top level team in the Hornets. The Raptors will have a new player in the fold and given the date tomorrow who knows what else might happen. The one thing that is for sure is that Vince Carter will be back in Toronto and he will not get a response like Morris Peterson who did not see the floor today for the Hornets. Bosh had 25 points and Calderon 22. But David West had 29 points and James Posey had 20 along with a 12 points and 12 assist effort from Chris Paul. The rest of the boxscore goodies can be found below.
Details on how all of this roster stuff is going to shake out to include Jake Voskhul when they come to light. So check back later tonight to see if there is more on that. If not I am sure it will be clear by tomorrow. It will be an interesting 24 hours in Raptorland or it at least could be depending on who Bryan Colangelo is talking to on his cell phone. Tomorrow marks the opening of NBA rosters so that everyone is available to be moved if their team desires to do so.