Raps win the tip and get a Bosh dunk that is a nice way to start. CP3 gets fouled by Bargs and makes a pair at the line. Demar Derozan scores and Hornets answer it was a nice start 4-4. Chris Bosh would get his second score to make it 8-6. Bargnani got a steal but Raps could not cash in and extend the lead. Later Jarrett Jack would though and draw the foul. Raps had no Jose again and Jack himself was sent home with a cold from practice yesterday. He would make the and 1 and Raptors lead 11-6 early. Hedo Turkoglu would add to that with a 3 pointer and Raps were on an 8-0 run. New Orleans take an early time out to try to get on the right track.
Hedo missed a lay-up then Devin Brown wen on a personal 5-0 run despite having a shot blocked by Chris Bosh. Bosh would drive and score plus the foul to put an end to that. He would miss the and 1 free throw and the Raptors would lead 16-11. Oakfor was fouled and missed both at the line score remains the same. Jack and Derozan get buckets and the lead was 20-13. David West would score and draw a foul that he would make Raptors still were up 4 points. Bosh jumper is good just like a Romo pass to Miles Austin. Bosh accurate like a Romo as well starting off 4 for 5 from the field. Marco Belinelli checks in and makes his first shot that is a good sign for him. Raptors building a nice lead with the score 24-17. A bad pass from Marco and Bosh is able to get it but eventual coughed it up and Hornets close gap to 24-20. Bosh on the next trip drives and draws a foul on David West his second. Bosh makes both at the line and Raptors are up 6. Hornets go to a small line-up as West checks out. Amir Johnson an ill advised shot and CP3 makes Raps pay at the other end. Paul would try to make them pay again with a 3 at the buzzer but it does not fall. Raptors lead 26-22 after 1.
Both teams misfire to start. Marcus Banks a drive and score nice. His D on the other end was not there as CP3 with the easy score in transition. Paul would come up gimpy after that and went to the bench right away. Peja a miss but rebounds it and he scores and the Raptors lead 29-26. Hedo the pull up jumper and he nails it. Andrea Bargnani with the score and Raptors lead was 33-28. It would be nice if Raps could build a lead with Paul out. But the opposite was happening as Raps had let the Hornets close to within one with the score 33-32. Hornets make a 3 out of the time out and take the lead as we get word Paul will not play the rest of the half. Hedo Turkoglu a much needed 3 point answer and Raps back in front. A Bargnani slam and Raps lead was back to 3 and the starters were back in and trying to take advantage.
But the Hornets continues to scrap and were being successful and re-took the lead 41-38. Jack tried to tie it up but missed fired Bosh could not get the rebound. Chris Paul was checking back in trying to gut it out and his team had built a lead in his absence. Raptors offense had got very sloppy and they were making turnovers and had fallen into a slump. Hornets lead was at 5 until Sonny Weems finally had a score and they go inside to Bosh and score again to cut the lead to just 1. the burst of offense continued with a score inside from Bargnani and Raptors back on top 44-43. New Orleans were working the offensive glass as Okafor got their 10th offensive board and scored. Bosh would respond on the other end and score plus a foul to get the Raps back on top. Bosh would make the free throw after a time out and he had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Nice pass by Hedo inside to Amir Johnson and the Raptors had a 49-45. Hornets miss and Jack pushes it and scores in transition. Oddly enough Raps were playing better with CP3 on the floor than off it. West would get a basket to cut the lead to 4 before the halftime buzzer. Raptors take a 51-47 lead into the halftime break.
It was far from a perfect half from the Raptors but they had a lead and closed the first half well. Chris Paul remains in their and it seems clear not at 100%. But David West would get a score on the opening possession and cut Raps slim lead in half. He would score again and the lead was gone tied at 51. A Hedo steal and uncontested score would give the lead back to the Raps. Jack would score as well driving to the hoop with no one getting in his way restoring the 4 point halftime lead at 55-51. Hornets call a time out and you have to wonder if Paul could remain in there and help his team more than hurt them. Raptors were doing a decent job at times of going inside and punishing the Hornets. Paul at full strength is one of the league's best defenders but with his ankle issues it may not be possible.
Raptors would score again out of time out and build the lead to 6. The Hornets would respond with 4 straight until Bosh would drive to the basket for a slam. CP3 would find a way to score and a turnover and another score and we were even at 59. Andrea Bargnani hits a timely 3 pointer to give the Raptors the lead back. Andrea had just 9 points on the day. However Peja would answer the 3 with one of his own and we were tied at 62. This was shaping up to be a dog fight with teams tied up at 64. Okafor a score plus a foul and Hornet back on top with a 3 point advantage. Bargnani scores then a DeRozan slam off the break and Raps lead 68-67. DeRozan the next trip took a jumper likely not the right idea. He would recover after Hornets took the lead briefly as he drove and scored. Raptors hanging on with a 70-69 lead. DeRozan was giving the Raps some life and was on a scoring spurt. Raptors riding it to a 74-69 lead. It was a game effort being put in by Chris Paul but if I was a Hornet fan(I use to be one) I would be concerned if he was helping or hurting the overall effort at this point. It's clear to everyone including the Raptors that he is not at 100%. Weems and DeRozan all kinds of hustle but no finish as Raps tried to extend the lead. Weems would finally find the basket taking it to the hoop and the lead was 7. Weems and Demar DeRozan get full marks for hustle and effort to close the 3rd and Raptors benefit with a 76-69 lead.
Raptors holding the Hornets just under 40% on the day which is good. Marcus Banks starts the 4th with a turnover which takes away from what has been a decent effort by him in limited minutes. However Raps get a turnover right back and Banks makes up for it with a score. Bosh a nice move on the baseline to draw a foul and head to the line for 2. He would make both and Raptors had largest lead of the day at 9 leading 80-71. Some sloppy play and Hornets run off 2 straight scores. A Paul miss with some decent D from Banks and an Amir Johnson score and the lead back to 7 with Raps leading 82-75.
Paul has checked out with 8:30 to play and that might be the last we see of him today. Hornets score on first possession without him. Banks continues to bring it on both ends with a score on the O and good D leading to a failed trip for the Hornets on the other end. Bosh a score, he has 21 and Raptors have their largest lead of day again at 9 with the score 86-77. Bosh takes a break out of time out. Amir Johnson gets on the floor and gets dirty earning the tie up for the jump ball. He wins the tip and the FREE AMIR movement is loving it!!! The Raps were hustling and battling and this is what fans have been dying to see.
Chris Paul does return but he really is labouring in this one. Banks a wide open 3 and missed it. This is why I struggle to give this guy credit. Raps gave up 4 straight and we have a time out with Jack and Bosh the Georgia Tech crew set to check back in. They were needed as the reserves were out of gas. It was 86-81 Raptors and they real need to close this one out as they have played hard and earned the right to be in the winner's circle. Bosh missed a dunk but Bargnani got a steal on the other end. Only to have Chris Bosh fumble it out of bounds. Hornets take advantage and score and the lead had slipped to 3. Bargnani stepping up in crunch time with a key bucket for 2. However Hornets get an easy score on other end. Bosh redeems himself for a few mistakes since checking back in with dunk. Raptors get a block from Bargnani with nice help defense. The killer B's were working off each other pretty well.
The lead would build back to 7 points but Hornets just refused to go away as a Paul steal his first of the game would lead to Hornets getting to the line with a chance to cut lead back to 3 which they do. Jack a miss and Raptors were hanging on just barely with 1:20 to go. Bargnani picked up foul number 5 sending Okafor to the line. He made the first and missed the second. Hornets ended up with it and had a chance to tie. Raptors fortunately get a loose ball foul send Hedo to the line. Hedo made both and that was key making it a two possession game with the score 94-90. Paul fouled with 1:05 to play and he makes both at the line. Open 3 for Bargnani does not fall but Chris Bosh on the offensive glass gets rebound number 11 and turns it into 2 points. Raptors again up 4 points and both teams fighting hard for a W. Bosh with a block on Chris Paul leading to him traveling and a huge turnover late. Hornets are forced to foul. Weems to the line and he missed his first but makes the second and Raps lead 97-92. Brown takes a 3 and Amir Johnson is there to rebound the miss he is fouled right away with 32 seconds to play. Amir goes 1 for 2 and the lead is 6. Posey a miss from 3 and that will do it...Raps win 98-92.
This was a game where the Raptors played how the fans want and expect this team to play. It was a solid victory. A nice early Christmas present for Raptor fans. They have truly earned it this season. Raptors had 3 Raptors with double figures in rebounds for the first time this season.