TORONTO — John Lucas was eager to make amends for his part in giving up an early lead.
Spurred on by a halftime challenge from his coach, he finished the game with a flourish.
Lucas scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to match his season high, Rudy Gay had 20 and the Toronto Raptors beat the New Orleans Hornets 102-89 on Sunday.
“He ignited them,” Hornets forward Ryan Anderson said of Lucas. “He’s the type of player that can come out and really change the flow of a game and he did.”
Kyle Lowry had 14 points and 10 assists and Amir Johnson scored 14 points for the Raptors, who won consecutive games for the first time since beating Philadelphia and Charlotte on Jan. 9 and 11.
Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Raptors blew open a close game by outscoring the Hornets 33-23 in the final quarter.
Lucas and the rest of Toronto’s second unit got a halftime talking to from coach Dwane Casey after New Orleans started the second quarter with a 10-0 run, eating up most of an 11-point lead.
“He just called us out, point blank,” Lucas said. “That’s what we needed, a wake-up call.”
The veteran guard and his fellow bench players vowed to bring more energy when they were called on next. And when the time came, no one did it better than Lucas.
“Lucas came in and just changed the game,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. “I thought we had a chance to win, but he came in and knocked down some shots.”
Williams warned his team before the game about Lucas’ offensive abilities. Apparently, the message wasn’t received.
“That’s what coach was talking about tonight before the game, that he’s a guy you don’t want to let come out and not think about,” Anderson said. “You want to be tough with him and guard him.”
Coming off an emotional overtime win at Indiana on Friday, Gay was thankful for the big effort by Toronto’s bench.
“Our bench really picked us up,” Gay said. “In the first half, they relaxed and gave away the lead. In the second half, they really picked us up and played well and got us that win.”
Robin Lopez scored 19 points, Greivis Vasquez had 17 and Anderson 15 for the Hornets, who lost for the first time in three games. Brian Roberts had 13 points for New Orleans, which has won more than two straight just once this season.
“We had a lot of breakdowns, especially on the defensive end,” Lopez said. “We had a game plan and we didn’t really execute it.”
New Orleans didn’t get much from Eric Gordon, who had as many turnovers (six) as points, or rookie Anthony Davis, who made just one of six field goal attempts.
“AD just didn’t have it for whatever reason,” Williams said. “Guys are coming after him and he’s got to accept the challenge.”
A three-point play by Roberts cut Toronto’s lead to 73-71 early in the fourth, but Lucas answered with back-to-back jumpers and Alan Anderson made a pair of free throws to give the Raptors a 79-71 lead with 8:55 left.
Lopez converted a three-point play for New Orleans, but Valanciunas hit a jump shot and Lucas made a 3 from the corner, putting Toronto up 84-74.
Lucas made all five of his 3-point attempts.
“He was the spark they needed,” Ryan Anderson said of Lucas. “He hit some big shots.”
Johnson scored 12 in the first and Gay had eight as the Raptors took advantage of six New Orleans turnovers to take a 32-21 lead after one quarter.
Roberts scored eight points as the Hornets closed the gap with their 10-0 run to begin the second. Lowry returned and scored six points for Toronto, helping the Raptors take a 50-47 lead at the half.
The Hornets committed six more turnovers in the third, but the Raptors couldn’t turn them into points. Toronto led 69-66 heading into the fourth.
“We just settled for too many jump shots tonight,” Williams said.