Circus buzzer-beater sinks Raptors

The Canadian Press
Lori Ewing

TORONTO–Pascal Siakam called it “March Madness.”
Madness, indeed.
Jeremy Lamb banked in a circus buzzer-beater from 48 feet last night to lift the Charlotte Hornets to a jaw-dropping 115-114 win over the Toronto Raptors.
One of the craziest endings in Raptors’ history left Scotiabank Arena fans standing in stunned silence, mouths agape, while the Hornets dog-piled in the corner.
A Charlotte broadcaster erupted with: “Good golly Miss Molly!”
“I don’t know what to say,” Siakam said. “He made a tough shot.
“I don’t know how [much] better I could have guarded that,” he added. “I had a deflection there. . . .
“Yeah, March Madness.”
Siakam relentlessly pestered Lamb as the clock ticked down, stabbing the ball out of his hands and beyond the half-court line before Lamb gathered it back up for the desperation shot–a disappointing ending to an inconsistent game for Toronto.
Kawhi Leonard had 28 points to top the Raptors (51-23), who were playing just their third game of the season with a full complement of healthy players.
Pascal Siakam added 23 points while Marc Gasol had 17 for the Raptors, Fred VanVleet added 12, and Serge Ibaka chipped in with 10.
Dwayne Bacon had five three-pointers in the third quarter to finish with 20 points on the night for the Hornets (34-39).
Kyle Lowry, who returned after missing the previous four of five games with ankle injuries, said the game shouldn’t have come down to the buzzer.
“We didn’t play well enough,” he conceded. “Energy in the second quarter and the third quarter . . . just didn’t play well. They hit a lot of ‘threes.’
“We weren’t sharp tonight.”
The game pit a Hornets’ team hoping to claw their way up into a playoff position versus a Raptors’ squad hoping to build some momentum and chemistry among a roster that’s looked like a revolving door with injuries, trades, and Leonard’s load management.
The Hornets arrived on the heels of a big win in Boston a day earlier, fighting back from an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Toronto led by 12 points early and looked like they were going to run away with it, but their advantage evaporated in a horrible third quarter.
Bacon lit it up against a lackadaisical defensive effort by Toronto and the Hornets took a 95-83 advantage into the fourth quarter.
“The sense of urgency defensively–at times we were not that committed to the game plan,” Gasol said.
“Five guys, we had doubt and dialogue and debates, too many of them,” he added. “And then it was finishing possessions with rebounds.
“The times we got spots, we couldn’t finish them,” Gasol noted. “It came back in the end and bit us.”
Back-to-back dunks by Siakam and Leonard highlighted a 12-0 Toronto run that made it a one-point game with 4:12 to play.
Leonard gave Toronto a two-point lead with 45 seconds to play, then had a big block at the other end.
A Toronto victory seemed like a sure thing when Charlotte in-bounded with possession with just four seconds left.
When was the last time Lamb hit a shot that big?
“In my driveway growing up, counting down by myself . . . five, four, three, two, one,” he said.
Lowry, meanwhile, admitted his injured right ankle wasn’t feeling 100 percent.
“No, this one is little bit tougher,” he remarked.
“It’s going to be a process but I’ll get there,” Lowry added. “It’s not going to be 100 percent the whole season, I can tell you that right now.
“But I will get to the point where I will be able to move and cut and run the way I really want to run.
“It takes time,” he reasoned. “It’s a work in progress and this was a good first step for me.”
The Raptors next host the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night.