Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan is the NBA’s leading scorer, and he sure showed why in the fourth quarter Friday.
DeRozan scored 10 of his 34 points in that decisive final period to come back on the Charlotte Hornets 113-111 at Spectrum Center. The loss broke a four-game winning streak for the Hornets, who will travel to Cleveland for Sunday’s afternoon meeting with the Cavaliers at 6-2.
The Raptors (6-2) led by as many as 16 points, only to have the Hornets go on an 18-0 second-half run. The Hornets led by as many as 10 points in the second half.
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker scored a season-high 40 points, making seven 3-pointers and nine free throws. He added 10 rebounds and six assists.
Three who mattered
Kemba Walker: He made six 3s in this game’s first three quarters.
DeMar DeRozan: He runs hot-and-cold, but the NBA’s leading scorer lived up to his rep.
Roy Hibbert: He provided a nice boost, considering he missed the previous five games with a sore knee.
▪ Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was held out of Friday’s game, as he continues to recover from a lower back strain. Coach Steve Clifford said there’s no indication yet whether Kidd-Gilchrist will be available to play Sunday in Cleveland, when he would be guarding LeBron James.
▪ With Kidd-Gilchrist out, Clifford started undrafted rookie Treveon Graham, in part to leave Marco Belinelli in his established role off the bench. Clifford has been particularly impressed with Graham’s savvy and defense.
▪ The Hornets got back center Roy Hibbert, who had missed five games with a sore right knee. Clifford didn’t plan to play Hibbert more than 14 minutes Friday.
▪ Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, the NBA’s leading scorer this season, made only two 3-pointers in Toronto’s first seven games. However, he averages 10 free-throw attempts.
▪ Kemba Walker made his first seven shots and had 21 – nearly his per-game average – at halftime.
▪ The Raptors got back Jonas Valanciunas (knee contusion) and Terrence Ross (sprained finger), after those two sat out Wednesday’s road victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
▪ Great halftime entertainment on Veterans Day: A military doo-wop group.
▪ The Hornets’ biggest test this season comes Sunday afternoon, 3:30 p.m., when they face the defending champion Cavaliers in Cleveland.
B+ OFFENSE: Thanks primarily to Kemba Walker, but Nic Batum and Cody Zeller had some good moments.
C+ DEFENSE: The Hornets held the Raptors scoreless for nearly five minutes of the second half.
B+ COACHING: Steve Clifford made a good call starting rookie Treveon Graham and having him guard DeMar DeRozan.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell