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Charlotte Hornets lose late to Toronto Raptors 94-104

The Charlotte Hornets hung around all game, but a dismal offensive performance in the 4th sealed their fate.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

A bummer of a game from the Charlotte Hornets, really.

Hey, it was certainly entertaining, complete with Frank Kaminsky one-man fast breaks, Tyler Hansbrough and Bismack Biyombo staredowns, and Toronto Raptors color-man Jack Armstrong referring to himself as "Joey Bagadonuts." (Editors note: WHAT!? WHY IS THIS JUST NOW COMING UP???)

But, tearing defeat from the jaws of victory always pretty much sucks.

The first half went fairly well, with both teams getting up and down a bit, and little defense being played. DeMar DeRozan got hot, Cody Zeller got to the free throw line, and at the end of two it was back to where it started.

Things eventually started looking up in the third as Kemba Walker went on a tear, doing Kemba-ish things and outplaying fellow All-Star hopeful Kyle Lowry with a solid 10 point quarter, as the Hornets looked like they were finally dialing it in and prepping for a comfortable 4th quarter cushion.

That cushion never came however, as Raptors reserve forward Patrick Peterson hit a pair of threes to finish the 3rd and start the 4th quarter, ending whatever momentum the Hornets had gained in the last 12 minutes.

Then, things got ugly. Other than a brief eight point, one-man run by Marvin Williams, the final quarter resembled an utter black hole for the Hornets who were outscored 30-12, due to some fantastically-timed bad shooting and worse execution. The Raptors rained down threes and that was it, a totally winnable game against a comparable Eastern conference squad, squandered.

We haven't seen much of this kind of offensive dysfunction this year and its reasonable to expect it was just a relative outlier performance. Chalk it up to Lin being out, or perhaps to too much champagne.

In other news, an interesting subplot to this game, and really in the past few, has been the continued subtle emergence of P.J. Hairston as an actually decent role player for the Hornets, and a less effective Jeremy Lamb, the latter of which received a nice little contract extension by the Hornets while the former was not. Lamb finished the game with Lin sidelined, and didn't play all that well, with one particularly memorable (for all the wrong reasons) off-the-dribble pull up jumper late in the 4th. P.J. came back to earth tonight with only two points on 1-5 shooting, but with his recent improvements and Lamb cooling off from the beginning of the season it'll be interesting to see who Clifford prefers in these late game situations.

And as always, it was great to see former Hornet/Bobcat, and all-around good guy Bismack Biyombo play well in meaningful minutes for a good team. He was involved in a hard foul situation with Tyler Hansbrough, which would've instantly been the best in-game brawl since who-knows-when. When they tell big men to "bang" down low, these two actually take that advice literally.

But anyways, tough loss. However, the team will get a second chance at starting 2016 off right, home tomorrow night against the Thunder.