Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/29/12
NEW ORLEANS -- It's a nice problem to have. The Toronto Raptors have won six of their last seven games -- including a 104-97 overtime victory over the New Orleans Hornets Friday night at the New Orleans Arena -- and now they've got their star point guard back on the court, packing the kind of swagger that coach Dwayne Casey loves. Showing no ill effects from a right triceps injury that sidelined him for the past seven games, Kyle Lowry came off the bench to score five of his 17 points in a 13-6 run during overtime to key the victory. Playing during crunch time, Lowry hit a twisting reverse layup that started on the left baseline. He followed that up with a 3-pointer from the left baseline that put Toronto up 98-93 with 1:45 left in overtime. Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan added a game-high 30 points for Toronto. "I thought (Lowry's) aggression helped us," Casey said. "I thought his toughness helped us. He hit a big 3 in overtime that got us going. It's going to take him a few games to get back to himself, but he gave us a little swagger with that second group, getting to the rim and attacking the basket." The Hornets sent the game into overtime, 91-91, on Ryan Anderson's 3-pointer with 8 seconds left in regulation. Casey said the Raptors (10-20) intended to foul Anderson with seven seconds left -- they didn't want to foul too early because the Hornets had two timeouts left -- but Anderson's shot from the right wing fell through after bouncing off the front and back rim. "It was a gut check," Casey said. "I was telling the guys before overtime that we were going to win this game. Everybody's eyes were locked in and focused. And then we got three straight stops." The Hornets (6-23) missed their first three shots in overtime -- a 3-pointer by Greivis Vasquez, a 15-footer by Anthony Davis and a wild drive by Vasquez -- and made just 2 of 11 in the extra period. Lowry added a team-high eight assists and had the ball in his hands at the end of regulation and in the overtime period, replacing Jose Calderon. "I felt great," Lowry said. "I just wanted to get out there and be involved in the things the team was doing the last couple of weeks. The ball has really been moving well, and I wanted to keep that going. I didn't want to try to do too much." The Hornets trailed 90-83 with 1:38 left in regulation before outscoring the Raptors 8-1 to force overtime. They got two 3-pointers by Anderson, who finished with 17 points. The Hornets also got 25 points from Davis and 20 from Vasquez. Hornets coach Monty Williams said his young team might have run out of gas in making the comeback and then falling short in overtime. "The energy we expended to come back in the fourth may have hurt us in overtime," Williams said. The Raptors opened their biggest lead of the game early in the fourth quarter at 81-68 with 6:29 left. Lowry was the catalyst, driving the length of the court for a layup and adding a pair of foul shots. The Raptors attacked the basket in the first half, and they converted 15 of 18 free throws to take a 48-42 halftime lead. They finished 25 of 32 from the line. NOTES: In the second half of Friday's game, Tom Benson, owner of the Hornets and the Saints, sat courtside with suspended Saints coach Sean Payton, along with New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond. A source confirmed that Payton had agreed to a new contract to coach the Saints in 2013. "It's done," the source said. ... Casey said Lowry would play with the second unit for now, with Calderon (averaging 13.6 points and 11.2 assists in the previous five games) continuing to start. "Jose deserves the right to start," Casey said. "He's earned it. He got us the winning streak that we had (5-1 in the previous six games). And it's not only the winning streak. (He's) just playing the game the right way." ... Williams said all signs point to shooting guard Eric Gordon playing for the first time this season on Saturday night in Charlotte. Gordon has played in just nine games during the last two seasons because of a right knee injury, but he has participated in full workouts this week and appears ready to go. "I'll talk to the doctors tonight and the trainers and make sure he's ready to go tomorrow," Williams said. "That's the plan to have him ready for tomorrow." ... Hornets forward Jason Smith, who missed the past seven games with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder, returned to action.
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