Hornets-Raptors Preview

The Associated Press

About two weeks ago, Rudy Gay matched his worst shooting effort of the season against the New Orleans Hornets as part of a dismal slump for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Now he's breathing new life into the Toronto Raptors.

Gay leads the Raptors into Sunday night's home matchup against a Hornets team seeking a third straight victory behind strong play from emerging point guard Greivis Vasquez.

Gay's next-to-last game with Memphis was a 91-83 loss to New Orleans (17-33) on Jan. 27 in which he shot 3 of 17 and scored 10 points. That capped an eight-game stretch in which he averaged 13.1 points and 35.9 percent shooting.

Since being acquired by Toronto (18-32) on Jan. 30, Gay is averaging 24.3 points. He scored 17 of his 23 after the third quarter of a 100-98 overtime victory Friday that snapped Indiana's 15-game home win streak.

"The Raptors have been playing great since I've been here, and we've been playing well with each other," Gay said. "You know, I just want to be in at the end of games where I can give the team a chance to win."

Vasquez has been giving the Hornets that lately. He posted his first career triple-double with 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 111-100 victory over Atlanta on Friday that opened a three-game trip.

"This one really feels great,'' he said. "It's special because it's my first one, and with a win. I can't be satisfied. I want more, and I want to help the team win games."

Vasquez has averaged 11.1 assists in his last 11 games, and he's third in the league in that department with 9.4 per contest.

"A lot of NBA guys don't want to be coached," coach Monty Williams said. "They want to be babied and coddled. That kid is probably the toughest guy I've been around."

Vasquez nearly recorded his first triple-double with 20 points, 14 assists and nine boards in a 104-97 overtime loss to Toronto on Dec. 28, but he won't go up against the departed Jose Calderon in the rematch.

Kyle Lowry has started the last five games at point guard for Toronto with Calderon having left as part of the three-team deal that netted Gay. Lowry had 17 points, eight assists and no turnovers in the first matchup.

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 in that contest for Toronto for his second-best output of the season while rookie Anthony Davis had his second-best scoring effort for New Orleans with 25.

The Raptors will get their only look of the season at Eric Gordon, who missed the first meeting with knee soreness. Gordon scored a season-high 27 points against the Hawks after sandwiching nine-point efforts around a game he missed to rest the knee.

Toronto is 13-9 against teams below .500, and believes it can reach the postseason.

"We definitely want to finish strong before the All-Star break," forward Amir Johnson said. "We're still in the run for the playoffs, we've just got to keep playing."