TORONTO — Patrick Patterson knows his role and, usually, it’s making an impact off the bench.
But on Monday, the back-up forward got his first start since coming to Toronto two months ago and made the most of it, pouring in a season-high 22 points as the Raptors defeated New Orleans 108-101.
"My role doesn’t change whether it’s starting, or whether I’m coming off the bench," said Patterson, who learned earlier in the day he would join the starting five in place of Amir Johnson, sidelined with a right ankle injury. "Setting screens, rebounding, shooting my shot, running the floor in transition and making my teammates better."
Patterson, who came over to Toronto from the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 9 in a seven-player trade that sent Rudy Gay West, did all of that Monday in his first start in 30 games as a Raptor. He was a tidy 7-for-11 from the field — including 3-for-5 from three-point range — had six rebounds and added two assists.
In his fourth season in the NBA, Patterson had 54 career starts, the majority with the Houston Rockets, coming into Monday night. He had started just six games this season, all with Sacramento.
"It’s all about making sure I have a positive role," Patterson said his rare start.
Patterson’s 22 points was one more than he had for the Kings against the Los Angeles Clippers Nov. 23.
"Fifteen deep. That’s how we play. That’s how we role," starting point guard Kyle Lowry said of Patterson’s ability to step into the line-up.
"We won. Everybody stepped up."
Lowry had another complete performance, scoring 19 points, doling out 12 assists and grabbing seven rebounds while DeMar DeRozan added 22 points as the Raptors (27-24) snapped a two-game losing streak before a crowd of 17,596 at Air Canada Centre.
With the win, the Raptors, returning home from a five-game road trip out West, widened their lead over the Brooklyn Nets atop the NBA’s Atlantic Division to three games.
Toronto, 8-2 at home since Jan. 1, plays seven of its next nine at Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors host the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break.
"We want to get both wins at home, protect home court and go into the break with a great conscience and try to hit the stretch run running," Lowry said of the team’s approach to this week’s two games.
The Raptors squandered a 15-point lead in the second quarter to go into halftime tied at 49. They then built up an 18-point edge in the third but again saw the Pelicans (22-29) battle back.
Tyreke Evans had a game-high 23 points and 10 assists to lead New Orleans. Anthony Davis added 19.
New Orleans went on a 16-5 run over the opening 5:10 of the fourth quarter to cut the Toronto lead to 87-86. But the Raptors responded with an 11-3 run over the next 2:30 to pull away for the victory.
"For whatever reason, we are losing our leads with our second unit," said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. "What it’s doing is putting a lot of pressure on our starters and them in big minute situations."
DeRozan logged 40:21 and Lowry put in 38:48 to lead in court time among all players.
"Taking Patrick Patterson off the second unit hurts them a bit," Casey said. "But still we have to get a rhythm with that second unit so we can rest our starters."