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Raptors nearly blow big lead at halftime

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TORONTO—Dwane Casey called his team's third quarter effort last night mind-boggling.

With the Raptors leading 71-52 at halftime, the Charlotte Hornets came out of the break on a 19-2 run and cut Toronto's lead to two points.

The Raptors rebounded in the fourth and prevailed 126-113 on a season-high 36-point performance from Kyle Lowry, but all the talk post-game was about Toronto's lacklustre third quarter.

“The way you come out and let a team go nine-straight points to start the quarter, that's totally unacceptable,” said Casey.

“We're not going to win anything if we come out with that attitude," he stressed. ”We've got to fix it.

“We've talked about it," Casey added. "Other than starting five other people, I don't know what to do.”

DeMar DeRozan looked sharp after injuring his knee in a win at Atlanta on Saturday.

DeRozan, who finished with just two points in 27 minutes of action against the Hawks, had 30 points and six assists in the win.

“We've got to figure [the third quarter] out, especially when we have a lead because we've got to understand teams are not just going to lay down,” said DeRozan.

“Teams are not just going to come out in the second half and just give us another 10-15 point lead on top of our lead.”

The Raptors (13-7) have won eight of their past nine meetings with the Hornets and improved to 7-1 on home court this season.

Lowry finished with a career-high eight three-pointers made while shooting 12-for-18 from the field and added six assists.

He became just the fifth player in franchise history to record eight three-pointers in a single game.

“I didn't know how many 'threes' I hit until after the game 'cause DeMar told me,” said Lowry.

"I think it's just the flow of the game: you go out there and you just play.

“I think air-balled the first one, it hit the side of the backboard, and then I just kept shooting,” he added.

The Hornets used a 7-0 surge to cut the Raptors lead down to five with 4:42 to go in the fourth, but that's as close as they would get.

Toronto scored seven-straight to push their lead to 12 with 3:08 left and led by at least nine the rest of the way.

Dwight Howard had a team-high 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season for Charlotte (8-12), which has dropped three straight.

Jeremy Lamb had 18 off the bench while Frank Kaminsky chipped in with 18.

“I thought we came out more aggressive on both ends of the floor, which allowed us to get back into the game,” Howard said of the third quarter.

“But we can't start games like that and expect to come back from a big deficit and win, especially against good teams,” he stressed.

Lowry had 17 second-quarter points, giving the Raptors a 19-point cushion at the break.

Lowry was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, capped off with a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds left.

DeRozan had 13 first-half points on 6-of-10 shooting. Norman Powell added seven off the bench.

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