The Charlotte Hornets lost their third game in a row at Toronto, 103-98. It was the last game of a brutal three-game road trip that included losses at Boston and at Philadelphia. Now the Hornets are 28-35 and are five games behind the eight seed Miami Heat.
This game was far more competitive than the previous three games with the Raptors, but each time the Hornets made a run the Raptors had an answer. Toronto outscored the Hornets by five and four points, respectively, in the first two quarters. The Raptors starters had four players in double figures and Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valancuinas each had double-doubles.
The Hornets offense was not great in the game as they only shot 37 percent from the field, while the Raptors shot 42 percent. Charlotte stayed in the game thanks to 15 Raptor turnovers compared to just 9 for the Hornets. The rebound and free throw battle were about even, but Toronto made seven more 3-pointers than Charlotte. Charlotte only had five made 3’s on 21 attempts, which is disappointing considering how hot they had been from three in previous games.
Kemba Walker led the Hornets in scoring with 27 points. However, he shot poorly as he went eight for twenty-three from the field. The only other starters in double figured were Dwight Howard and Nicholas Batum with ten points each. Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky each had excellent games off the bench with 16 points and 15 points. In Cody Zeller’s return, he had six points and seven rebounds. The bench was part of two key Hornet runs in the third and fourth quarter. Lamb had a team-best +8 plus/minus.
Toronto answered each Hornet run. Lowry and DeRozan made key threes down the stretch to put the Hornets away. Serge Ibaka and DeRozan were both in double figures, and Fred Van Fleet and C.J Miles had double figures off the bench. Ibaka, in particular, had a big game with 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Toronto improved to 45-17, which is the best record in the east.
The Hornets chances of making the playoffs are now very super slim. To be exact, the Hornets now only have a 9.7 percent chance of making the playoffs according to ESPN’s playoff odds. It was a valiant effort for the Hornets, but Toronto was just a little too much. Charlotte returns to action Tuesday night at home against the Philadelphia 76ers. Each game is crucial now, and the Hornets must win at home to make up for the 0-3 road trip.