Hornets wrapup: Charlotte’s second half defense is stout against Toronto, but was it enough for a Hornets’ win?

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Thursday’s 111-108 Charlotte Hornets’ loss to the Toronto Raptors in Tampa, Fla., that dropped Charlotte to 6-7 overall:

… Down 18 points (97-79) with 2:26 left in the third quarter, Charlotte limited Toronto to 12 fourth-quarter points and twice got within three points before missing two 3-point shots in the final 3.4 seconds to lose their second straight game and fall below .500.

… The Hornets were without starting forward Gordon Hayward for the first time this season due to the strained hip he suffered in Wednesday’s 104-93 home loss to Dallas. Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego called Hayward “day-to-day” and was hopeful Hayward could play on Saturday; Hayward averages a team-high 22.0 points in addition to 5.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists this season.

… With Hayward out, Caleb Martin got the second start of his pro career; Martin had five points, six rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes. Malik Monk also got the most significant minutes of the season. The fourth-year player finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes. “It felt great,” Monk said. “To see some shots go in made it feel better.”

… The Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, Caleb Martin, P.J. Washington, Bismack Biyombo starting lineup was the team’s third starting group of the season.

… The Raptors made 20 of 50 3-pointers, including 13 of 25 in the first half, against the Hornets. Fred VanVleet led the way with five conversions in 15 attempts. “I’ll have to watch them (on tape),” Borrego said. “We held them to 40 points in the second half and 12 points in the fourth quarter. Overall it was a heckuva effort on defense in the second half.”

… Charlotte had its best offensive scoring balance of the season with seven double-figure scorers – Rozier 22, Washington 20, Graham 15, rookie LaMelo Ball 14, Miles Bridges 12 and Biyombo and Monk 10 each.

… Toronto got a game-high 25 points off the bench from Chris Boucher. Boucher also had a 10 rebounds, including four offensive rebounds.

What’s next: Charlotte remains in Tampa to host Toronto on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The teams play again in Tampa, which is Toronto’s designated home this season due to Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions, on Saturday night at 7:30.