Desmond Mason refused to concede that the reason behind the Hornets early season struggles stem from them being a less scrappy bunch than they were last year. So, too, did Rasual Butler. Hornets coach Byron Scott, on the other hand, always can be counted on to tell it like it is. After watching the Toronto Raptors become the second straight team to walk into the Ford Center and outplay the Hornets from start to finish, emphatically thumping the home team, 94-77, Scott had no choice but to point to his team's obvious lack of desire and toughness. "One thing we did last year was show our resiliency," Scott said. "We aren't showing that right now. We are submitting and hoping that a team gives us a win. Or we are feeling sorry for ourselves because we are missing two of our key players." Either way, the Hornets dropped their fourth-straight game and suffered their second consecutive defeat inside the Ford Center after starting the season 4-0 at home. Following a league-best 4-0 start, the Hornets finished the month at 8-7. Tuesday night's loss marked the fourth consecutive game in which they failed to score more than 83 points. The team's 41.6 percent shooting rate sadly marked its highest shooting rate in the past four games. "It's funny, because everybody says we're less scrappy now when we lose a couple of games," Mason said. "But when we were winning games, that's not the issue. The thing is we just have to get back to our basketball. It's got nothing to do with not being scrappy." Said Butler: "I can't agree with that. I think we're scrappy this year. We're a better defensive team. We're getting more stops consistently. Maybe tonight we didn't carry our intensity over for the entire 48 minutes of the game. But I wouldn't say that we're not as hungry as we were last year." You couldn't tell from Tuesday's performance. Heck, you couldn't tell from the past week. Granted, the Hornets were without Peja Stojakovic (back spasms) and David West (right elbow), their second- and third-leading scorers. But the Raptors entered the game at just 4-9, the fourth-worst record in the Eastern Conference. So you'd think the Hornets would pounce on an inferior team and play with more urgency after three straight losses, right? Wrong. The Hornets lost their last lead 33 seconds into the second quarter and trailed by as many as 21 points. Behind Toronto forward Chris Bosh's 11 third-quarter points, the Raptors outscored the Hornets 23-14 in the period to turn a four-point halftime lead into a 13-point advantage to start the final quarter. "They outworked us from the beginning of the game to the end of the game," Scott said. "We were fortunate to be down by four points at halftime. The third quarter was just a snowball of what probably should have happened in the first half." Without West, who missed his eighth straight game, and Stojakovic, who missed his second straight game, the Hornets continued to look for answers on offense. Guard Chris Paul scored a team-high 16 points but needed 16 shots to do so. He also finished with a game-high 11 assists. Butler, starting in place of Stojakovic, scored 13 and Mason was the only other Hornet in double-figure scoring with 10. The Hornets were outscored 45-32 in the second half. "I can stomach losing," Scott said. "But it's the way we're losing that I can't stomach. I can stomach guys going out there and playing as hard as they can and we lose the game. I don't have a problem with that. "But we're losing games by not giving the type of maximum effort that I know we can give. We're getting paid maximum money, I expect maximum effort."
Ex-Cowboy Graham scores 14 off bench
The Hornetâ€™ Tyson Chandler, left, slams the ball during the Hornetsâ€™ loss at the Ford Center on Tuesday. Chandler scored six points and added 17 rebounds. by NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN
Player of the gameToronto forward Chris Bosh scored 19 points with 14 rebounds in 31 minutes. Bosh scored 11 of his points in the third quarter to help the Raptors outscore the Hornets 23-14 in the period and take a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Play of the gameThe game was over when Raptors forward Jose Calderon hit a 3-pointer with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter to give Toronto an 11-point lead. Chris Bosh later made two free throws, and the Hornets never pulled closer than 13. By Darnell Mayberry