NEW ORLEANS — Monty Williams sat in his seat on the Hornets’ bench late Wednesday night, his elbows draped on his knees.
He could only watch as his Hornets failed to convert opportunity into something useful once more in this strike-shortened season.
New Orleans, up at one time by seven on the nearly equally woeful Raptors, dropped its second straight game, losing 95-84 a night after taking one of the NBA’s best teams to the wire on the road.
After shooting 42.7 percent through three quarters, New Orleans went cold in the fourth, a common tie to the rest of the season.
In the end, despite holding Toronto (11-24) to 44.2 percent shooting, New Orleans’ shot itself out of the game, finishing the night just 30 of 80, including 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
The bench dropped the ball mostly, shooting just 6 of 25 for the game, with guard Jarrett Jack going 3 of 12 while ending with 10 points and six assists.
Marco Belinelli led the Hornets (8-27) with 20 points and seven rebounds. Center Chris Kaman added 17 points and 10 rebounds. And Trevor Ariza and Gustavo Ayon both added 11 points.
New Orleans’ inability to slow down Toronto reserves Linas Kleiza, who had 21 points, or Leandro Barbosa, who had 15 points, ultimately haunted it.
Much like the first half of the season, there was a moment when after all looked bleak for the Hornets, everything seemed to turn around.
Down 51-42 with mere seconds to play in the first half, New Orleans had no touch and no momentum.
It gained it shortly thereafter, though, closing out the second quarter with a 4-0 run that it extended to 27-11 late into the third.
A 60-58 lead with 3:59 to go in the third, the Hornets’ first lead since late in the opening quarter, turned into a 69-62 advantage with one quarter to play.
But the seven-point lead was short-lived.
Toronto’s 7-0 run to open the final 12 minutes tied the game just 1:17 into the fourth quarter, forcing the Hornets to call timeout and reset.
The halt in play did nothing to slow down Toronto. The Raptors run took their lead to 89-81 on Kleiza’s 3-pointer in front of the Hornets bench.
New Orleans couldn’t answer, chances to cut into the lead missing on Kaman’s short shot and Trevor Ariza’s offensive charge with 2:30 to play, all but ending any chance for the Hornets.