OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—The Toronto Raptors found a way to win away from home: Don’t give up so many points.
Chris Bosh had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and the Raptors had their best defensive effort of the season in a 94-77 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. It was their first win on the road in eight tries.
“We’re really starting to clog that lane up,” Bosh said. “That’s what you have to do on the road, play defense well.”
The Raptors had been allowing an average of 106 points in their seven road losses, and they hadn’t given up fewer than 97 in any of their games outside of Canada. With the Hornets missing two of their top three scorers, Toronto was able to hold New Orleans to 32 second-half points.
“This is a big win for us on the road,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. “Any time you can go on the road in this league and get a win is big.”
Anthony Parker also had 19 points, and the Raptors got a big lift with 45 points from their bench. No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani scored a career-high 16, Joey Graham added 14 and Jose Calderon tied his season best with 13 points for Toronto—all three off the bench.
“This team’s got really good chemistry. There’s no drop-off from the first guys that come out to the second guys that come in,” said Graham, a first-round pick last year out of Oklahoma State. “We don’t look at it as first- and second-team. We just look at it as playing together and we all put in effort and hard work.”
Chris Paul had 16 points and 11 assists to lead New Orleans. Rasual Butler, starting for the injured Peja Stojakovic, added 12 points and Tyson Chandler pulled down 17 rebounds. Also without David West (forearm), last season’s leading scorer, the Hornets haven’t scored more than 83 points during a four-game losing streak.
“I think the fact that, again, another team has come in and outplayed and outworked us is more disappointing than the loss,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “One thing that we did a lot of last year was show our resiliency. We aren’t showing that right now. We are submitting and hoping that a team gives us a win.
“Or, we are feeling a little sorry for ourselves because we are missing two of our key players.”
The Raptors opened a 61-51 lead with a 12-4 run after Chandler started the second half by tipping in Desmond Mason’s miss. Paul brought the Hornets back within four with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but Bosh’s three-point play sparked a surge of nine straight Toronto points for a 72-59 lead after three quarters.
Toronto kept pulling away, and the lead reached 89-68 when Bargnani hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to surpass his best output of the season.
New Orleans led by seven late in the first quarter before allowing Toronto to score the next 11 points in a run that overlapped the quarter break. The Raptors’ lead reached 42-35 before the Hornets closed within four points at halftime.
The Hornets continue to be streaky, although the pattern has now changed. New Orleans won its first four games before losing the next three, then did the same thing over the next seven games. But now the losing streak isn’t stopping.
Stojakovic, who missed his second straight game with back spasms, had an MRI before the game. “It’s just a matter of us getting some more information … to find out where he is and find out if we can be a little bit more aggressive in what we’re doing, as long as there’s no serious damage back there,” Scott said. … Hornets G Bobby Jackson, who was fined $20,000 after being ejected Saturday at Dallas, was not suspended. “When you have Peja and David (West) already out, you can’t afford to miss another piece of the puzzle,” Scott said. … Grammy winner LeAnn Rimes sang the U.S. national anthem.