TORONTO (AP) — For the first time in more than two months, the Toronto Raptors are on a losing streak.
Terry Rozier hit a tiebreaking free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining and the Charlotte Hornets beat Toronto 99-96 yesterday, handing the Raptors their second consecutive loss and just their third in 20 games.
Bismack Biyombo had 13 points and 11 rebounds against his former team, and Devonte Graham scored nine of his 18 in the fourth quarter as the Hornets won their second straight and beat short-handed Toronto for the third time in 10 meetings.
“Probably one of our best wins of the season,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of beating the defending champs on their home court. “They’re a fantastic team, a well-coached team, they know what they’re doing. It was a big-time win for us.”
Rozier scored 18 points, Miles Bridges had 17 and P.J. Washington 15 as all five Hornets starters finished in double figures.
“They’ve got a great group,” Rozier said about the Raptors. “We just dug deep and we stayed with it and we pulled it out.”
Charlotte has won five of seven after losing 13 of the previous 14.
“We’re heading in the right direction. Our young guys are growing,” Biyombo said.
Pascal Siakam had 24 points, Norman Powell returned from injury to score 22 and Kyle Lowry had 21 for the Raptors.
Toronto, which lost 108-97 to NBA-leading Milwaukee on Tuesday, dropped back-to-back games for the first time since losing at Indiana on December 23 and at home to Boston on Christmas Day.
“We just didn’t have the complete effort tonight,” Lowry said. “It hurts. You don’t want to ever lose but you’ve got to grow from it, you’ve got to learn from it.”
It’s just the fourth time this season the defending champions have dropped consecutive games. Toronto lost three in a row between December 3 and 8, losing at home to Miami and Houston before a defeat in Philadelphia.
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet sat out because of a sore left shoulder, while forward Serge Ibaka was inactive because of a sore left knee.
Powell returned to the starting lineup after missing nine games because of a broken finger on his left hand. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson started for Ibaka and fouled out with four points. Hollis-Jefferson missed six of eight field goal attempts but had nine rebounds.
Down 73-66 through three quarters, Toronto took its first lead of the second half on Lowry’s three-pointer with 2:29 remaining. Lowry’s big shot came after the Raptors grabbed the rebound on their All-Star guard’s missed free throw.
Rozier answered with a three, and Graham made one of two at the line to push Charlotte’s lead to 93-90. Lowry connected from deep again to tie it, then scored on a driving layup to give the Raptors a 95-93 lead with 1:14 remaining.