DeRozan leads Raptors past Hornets 103-98; Toronto takes two game lead in East

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan had a team-high 19 points as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Charlotte Hornets 103-98 on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.

DeRozan added eight assists and four rebounds while Jonas Valanciunas chipped in 18 points and 13 rebounds. C.J. Miles and Fred VanVleet each had 12 points off the bench.

The victory gave Toronto (45-17) a two-game lead on idle Boston atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Raptors swept the season series with the Hornets winning all four meetings.

Kemba Walker had a game-high 27 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead the Hornets (28-36), who have now lost three straight. Framk Kaminsky III added 15 points and four rebounds off the bench while Jeremy Lamb added 16 points.

Charlotte entered Sunday’s action 10th in the Eastern Conference, five games back of the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Hornets cut Toronto’s lead to two with 5:11 to play in the fourth, but Kyle Lowry responded for the Raptors draining a 27-foot three-pointer, and Toronto led by at least three the rest of the way.

Ibaka had 17 and Valanciunas added 16 as the Raptors led 82-69 after three.

Walker had 15 points for Charlotte while Nicolas Batum and Dwight Howard each had 10 through three quarters.

The Hornets opened the second half on a 13-6 surge, cutting Toronto’s lead to two, prompting Dwane Casey to call a time out with 6:58 to play.

The Raptors responded out of the timeout as Ibaka and Valanciunas hit back-to-back threes and Lowry got a layup to fall. Toronto used a 19-8 run to push their lead to 13 with 2:28 to play in the quarter.

Ibaka led the way with 11 points and four rebound as the Raptors held a 52-43 lead at the break. Valanciunas and DeRozan each had nine points while Miles added nine off the bench after two quarters.

Toronto led 26-21 after one quarter on nine points and three rebounds from Valanciunas. Ibaka added seven points.

The Raptors used a 9-0 run to jump out to a 13-4 lead prompting the Hornets to take their first full timeout with 8:29 to play.

Note: Raptors F OG Anunoby (ankle) missed his second game. Malcolm Miller made his first career start in Anunoby’s place.

Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press

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