CHARLOTTE—Jeremy Lin made his second start of the season and led Charlotte with 35 points as the Hornets withstood a late rally to defeat Toronto, 109-99, in overtime at Time Warner Cable Arena Wednesday. Kemba Walker added 27 points, seven assist and six rebounds.
Despite leading by 16 in the second half, the Hornets were forced to go an extra five minutes after hitting only two field goals in the fourth quarter.
DeMar DeRozan finished with 31 points, five assists and four rebounds. He was nearly the hero in an improbable victory. After Walker committed a turnover in the waning seconds of regulation with the score tied at 90, DeRozan hit a 35-footer with less than a second left. However, it was negated as Kyle Lowry had signaled for a timeout.
Charlotte improves to 15-10 with the victory while the Raptors fall to 16-11. The Hornets are now a half-game behind first place Miami in the Southeast Division while Toronto clings to a 1.5 game lead over Boston in the Atlantic.
The Hornets entered Wednesday’s matchup against Toronto off of back-to-back losses and were without Nicolas Batum, who missed the game due to an illness.
“It wasn’t pretty there in the fourth but I thought we had a lot of guys make a lot of good plays,” Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford said. “It was a terrific win.”
Three-point shooting was a key in the first half for Charlotte. P.J. Hairston hit two from behind the arc early. Hairston finished with 14 points (5-for-10 field goals, 4-for-7 from three-point range), marking the second straight game the second-year pro from North Carolina has scored in double-figures.
“We fight for the wins,” Clifford said. “Win or lose, we play hard I think every night except last night. You could tell today they were locked in and focused. DeRozan got away from us and then Lowry made some shots late but our defense was really good tonight.”
In his first game back in the Queen City since signing with Toronto in the offseason, Bismack Biyombo played well for the Raptors. The ex-Hornet finished with eight points, a career-best 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
“He did a good job and he played well,” Clifford said of Biyombo. “I think it is a good team for him to play on. I am happy for him. Biz is easy to cheer for and easy to like.”
Charlotte next goes on the road for a two-game swing beginning Saturday at Washington and concluding Monday in Houston before returning home to battle Boston in the Queen City for the second time in less than two weeks.