Huge fourth-quarter leads Raptors to victory over Hornets…


He chirped at the grating Tyler Hansbrough, jostled with him and energized the crowd every time, just Bismack Biyombo being Bismack Biyombo, breathing some life into a moribund group of Raptors.

It wasn’t the singular defining moment of the game, but the frequent engagement was enough to turn the juice on and help the Raptors pull away for a 104-94 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday at the Air Canada Centre.

“They’re like two bulls in a china closet right there, going for the balls,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said after Toronto won thanks to a dominant 30-12 fourth-quarter run. “Bismack set the tone. I thought he got the crowd into it, he was demonstrative . . . he did a heck of a job on the boards and protecting the paint.”

Which is just what he’s supposed to do, whether it’s against a docile opponent or against effervescent Hansbrough, a sandpaper kind of guy opponents dislike while teammates love.

“Honestly it’s fun, but at the same time I play the same way each and every night so to me it really doesn’t matter who I’m facing . . . it’s about me being prepared for each and every game each and every night,” Biyombo said after his six-point, 11-rebound evening.

His defensive presence was a huge part of Toronto holding Charlotte to 4-for-21 shooting in the final quarter; a stark contrast to how the Raptors opened the second half.

They were listless and disorganized in falling behind by nine and in dire need of a spark when Biyombo and his backup mates helped energize the building. He, Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson combined to get 14 of Toronto’s 16 fourth-quarter rebounds.

“It’s always great to have that type of player on your team, who is able to get the crowd involved like that and get us going,” DeMar DeRozan said of Biyombo. “You see that fire and energy going, him and Pat kind of sparked that in the second half on the defensive end and got us going and that is what we needed.”

A resurgence of Kyle Lowry on the offensive side was an important boost. With DeRozan being oddly held in check for most of the second half — only four of his 23 points came after the break — Lowry took over, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the fourth and frustrating Charlotte’s Kemba Walker into a 1-for-5 shooting period.

Lowry, who said he was “fine” after a tweak to his ankle right at the end of the game, had been pedestrian through 36 minutes — just 3-for-10 from the field — but erupted in the fourth with a couple of clutch three-pointers and three of his 11 assists.

“My teammates and my coaches . . . those guys really pick me up and pull me through,” said Lowry. “I’m not going to have the best of games in the world but when the fourth quarter comes, my teammates do a great job of keeping me up.

“And the coaches, they do a good job. It’s unbelievable how these guys keep me up knowing I’m in a little bit of a funk throughout the game. But they make sure when it comes down to the fourth quarter that I’m into it.”

The funk wasn’t just on Lowry since the Raptors won despite shooting only 40 per cent from the field.

“I’d love to shoot 45, 47, 48, but right now we’re kind of discombobulated offensively, timing is off, guys are not exactly in the right places, and trying to get everybody back in,” Casey said. “And we’ll get there, but it’s going to take a little time, it’s a little bumpy right now.”

01/01/2016 23:31  By: TORONTO STAR