Kleiza finished with 21 points — after having just seven in 20 minutes Tuesday in Houston — and DeMar DeRozan had a solid 21 in a redemptive night.
Leandro Barbosa added 15 off the bench and Jose Calderon set the tone for the night by scoring all 12 of his points in the first quarter.
Marco Belinelli had 20 for the Hornets and Chris Kaman added 17.
DeRozan was the focus of attention from the start after a somewhat intemperate note he sent out via his Twitter feed in the aftermath of Tuesday’s three-point loss in Houston.
Either displeased with the fact he sat the entire fourth quarter or with another tough loss (that was Wednesday’s message), the tweet — “straight bull----” — was up for a couple of hours before it disappeared.
Casey said he had a word with the third-year swingman about the wisdom of making his frustration known in such a manner.
“We’re all frustrated but we have to turn that frustration around into another opportunity (Wednesday),” Casey said before the game. “It’s part of growing up, part of being a professional and, again, it was one of those things out of frustration.”
But Casey suggested it was better that DeRozan lash out rather than accept a bad finish to a close game that he was forced to watch from the bench.
“It shows everybody cares,” the coach said. “It shows you care and that’s why I didn’t make a big deal out of it. It was a good thing.”
But a public declaration might not be the wisest move.
“We handle it internally and that’s the way it is. . . . We want to be a team that’s about discipline, about doing things the right way and we’re going to be,” said the coach.
“This is a tough job,” he said. “When you’re a competitor and you’re losing, it can definitely get to you. It’s human nature. We don’t mean no harm by it, it’s our competitive spirit, you want to go out and win every game you play in.”
But that frustration may stay private now.
“You live and you learn,” he said. “Probably a couple years from now, when I’m a vet or whatever, I can tell young guys, ‘Don’t do this’ or something like that.”
DeRozan might not have had his most explosive first half — he was 2-for-7 from the field as Toronto took a 51-46 lead at the break — but he was more aggressive in the first quarter than he has been.
On his first four possessions, he went right to the rim and, as Casey likes to say, accepted contact. He missed the first three shots and missed one of two free throws when he was fouled on the first but it was the most aggressive he’d been over a short stretch in a while.
“He had it rolling, he stayed in the game,” said Casey. “He did a good job of closing, body-hunting, getting to the rim and getting to the free-throw line.”
The offence was inconsistent again, but the Raptors played defence so well it didn’t matter.
Toronto’s sputtering attack was in form long enough to pull out a 95-84 victory in the Big Easy on Wednesday night, despite a 4-for-21 shooting disaster of a third quarter.
The team actually opened with a surge, shooting 63.2% in the first quarter — as opposed to 18% in the first frame of Tuesday’s tough 88-85 loss in Houston — and took a 51-46 lead into the half.
But the third-quarter meltdown allowed the home side to erase the deficit and build up a seven-point edge.
Of course, the Raptors (now 9-26) then started the fourth quarter 7-for-7 to battle back.
“Making shots is huge, you can learn all you want to, but if you miss shots it does not do any good,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said of the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday’s fourth quarters.
Bounce back efforts from Amir Johnson — who Casey said set the tone — Linas Kleiza, Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless allowed the Raptors to equal last season’s road win total of six. Kleiza and Calderon scored 12 apiece in the first half and Kleiza added nine more in the deciding quarter.
Before his team took to the court in New Orleans on Wednesday night, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was asked if frustration from his players about losing close games and the slow pace of his defensive education, was perhaps a good thing.
After Toronto lost by three in Houston on Tuesday night, DeMar DeRozan, who was on the bench for the closing moments, tweeted “Straight Bulls—-.” Speculation bubbled about its meaning. DeRozan’s offensive troubles have been under intense scrutiny. Casey smiled slightly.
“[Frustration] shows everyone cares,” the coach said in a televised pre-game interview, “No matter who it is it shows they care.”
DeRozan’s tweet was deleted from his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon. The coach said the issue was addressed “internally,” a
The Toronto Raptors followed their worst quarter of the season with their best.
Linas Kleiza and DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points apiece and Toronto rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets 95-84 on Wednesday night.
The Raptors, who trailed 69-62 after tying a season low for points in a quarter with 11 in the third, broke loose for 33 in the fourth — matching a season best for any period. They hit their first eight shots and took control by scoring 22 points in the first 4:22.
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“It was all on us,” DeRozan said. “They weren't doing anything to stop us or get us off. We knew we were going to put it together in the fourth quarter.”
Kleiza tied a career high with five 3-pointers off the bench, including three in the fourth. Leandro Barbosa, another reserve, added 15 points.
The Raptors, unable to finish in an 88-85 loss at Houston on Tuesday, made almost everything down the stretch against the Hornets. The win snapped a five-game road losing streak.
“We moved the ball very well,” Barbosa said. “That was the difference between last night and tonight. We're getting better and we're growing.”
Marco Belinelli had 20 points for the Hornets, who missed 13 consecutive shots in the fourth quarter and lost for the 16th straight time after trailing at the half. Chris Kaman added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“Our defense just went downhill,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “We couldn't guard the ball.”
The game turned quickly at the start of the fourth after Toronto missed 17 of 21 shots in the third, getting outscored 23-11.
DeRozan scored on a floater, Kleiza drilled a 3-pointer and Barbosa converted a transition layup to tie the score right away, prompting a New Orleans timeout with 10:43 left.
The Raptors did not cool down. Kleiza hit another 3 on their next possession for a 72-71 lead. Jerryd Bayless responded to a 3 by Belinelli with a 3 the next time down the court. After Belinelli sank another 3, Barbosa hit a mid-range shot, Bayless made two free throws and Barbosa made a 3 from the corner to give Toronto an 82-77 lead with 7:38 left.
Kleiza finished off the Hornets with his fifth 3-pointer, a 25-footer, to put Toronto ahead 89-81 with 3:25 left.
The final margin was Toronto's largest lead of the night.
THE FACTS: So much for Raptors forward Linas Kleiza and his sore ankle. Kleiza looked fully healthy after missing the final three games before the All-Star break, scoring 21 points to push the Toronto Raptors to a 95-84 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena. The Raptors' DeMar DeRozan matched Kleiza's output with 21 points of his own.
QUOTABLE: "He got his sea legs under him a little bit. ... Very valuable because he can simulate Andrea (Bargnani) as a stretch four, which is huge when you go up against a team like that. It forced them to go small a little bit. It was a very go weapon to go up against players like (Chris) Kaman."
--Raptors coach Dwane Casey on Kleiza's play
THE STAT: The Raptors managed to completely reverse a trend that was a positive for the Hornets one night earlier in New Orleans' loss to Chicago. Toronto's bench outscored New Orleans' backups 41-21 as Kleiza alone matched the Hornets' complete bench output. The Hornets bench outscored the Bulls bench 39-19 on Tuesday in Chicago.
TURNING POINT: The Hornets entered the fourth quarter with a 69-62 lead. The Raptors didn't waste any time chopping that lead up and building one of their own. Toronto went on two separate 7-0 runs to open the fourth quarter as the Raptors outscored the Hornets 33-15 in the final period.
HOT: Raptors reserve Leandro Barbosa paced Toronto's fourth-quarter spark as he went 4 of 4 from the field to score 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
NOT: Point guard play for the Hornets wasn't optimal for sure as Greivis Vasquez and Jarrett Jack shot a combined 5 of 19 from the floor. Vasquez only scored four points and added six assists. Jack did have 10 points and six assists despite the shooting woes.
QUOTABLE II: "It's easy to sit here and say what we didn't do, 'we didn't do this, we didn't do that.' But the bottom line is that team beat us tonight. They did what was necessary to get the win. ... I hate to point the finger at one particular person, but at the end of the day I can't coach the guys in the fashion that I coach and not look at myself."
--Hornets coach Monty Williams
INSIDE THE ARENA: Actor Samuel L. Jackson sat courtside along the Raptors baseline on Wednesday night. Jackson was cheering on the Raptors and giving the referees grief about certain calls throughout the game.
NOTABLE: Hornets forward Carl Landry (MCL sprain), forward Jason Smith (concussion), center Emeka Okafor (knee) and guard Eric Gordon (knee) didn't play against the Raptors. Williams said Landry could return by the end of the week after missing several weeks. Smith is "driving himself crazy" trying to get back, Williams said, as there's still not a concrete timeframe. Gordon was on the Hornets bench in New Orleans to watch the game for the first time since having knee surgery. ... Kaman chalked up 17 points and 10 rebounds as his value near the trading deadline continues to increase.
UP NEXT: For the Raptors, Friday vs. Memphis, Sunday vs. Golden State, Monday vs. Memphis.
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