The Hornets did a job keeping pace with the Raptors in the first quarter despite serving up a heaping helping of turnovers. When they were able to get set defensively, the Hornets did a wonderful job forcing the Raptors into tough looks, limiting them to 32% shooting for the quarter. Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges provided the highlight of the quarter with this alley oop:
Devonte’ Graham hit a leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Hornets a two point lead after one.
The Hornets went on a big 15-4 run to start the second quarter. At one the Raptors switched to a zone defense, which we’ve seen ruin offenses of Hornets past. That was not the case tonight, as the Hornets easily found the soft spots and got open looks. The run put the Hornets up by 13 and forced Nick Nurse to take a timeout. The Hornets came out of that timeout with four straight points, all from the hands of Bismack Biyombo. He could’ve had five, but he airballed the free throw attempt after an and-1 bucket. Graham made this play which is hopefully a sign of the next evolution of his game:
The Raptors found their footing a bit in the final minutes of the quarter, but the Hornets held their ground. At the half, the Hornets led by 11 while holding the Raptors to 269.% shooting from the field.
The Hornets weren’t nearly as crisp to start the second half, particularly on offense. The ball stayed stuck on the perimeter and the Hornets couldn’t get their jumpers to fall. James Borrego took a timeout that seemed to settle his team down. Back to back threes from Terry Rozier and Jalen McDaniels didn’t hurt either. The Hornets held on to a seven point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Raptors tried a full court trap to start the fourth quarter, and Willy Hernangomez got an easy layup out of it. Then the Raptors went zone, and Cody Martin did this:
A 6-0 Raptors run a short time later cut the Hornets lead down to two and forced a Hornets timeout. The teams went back and forth for a few minutes, before Kyle Lowry drew a foul 45 feet from the basket. He missed the second free throw, but an offensive rebound led to a Lowry three that put the Raptors up one. The Hornets quickly recpatured their lead with a three from Terry Rozier on the next possession.
Kyle Lowry took it back with a driving layup a couple possessions later, and that was answered by Bridges pulling a three in his face. A Lowry free throw tied the game.
The teams exchanged misses. PJ Washington nabbed the Raptors miss with just over two seconds remaining and alertly found a wide open Miles Bridges who had leaked into the front court, but the Hornets bench had called timeout before realizing that he was home free for an uncontested game winner.
The Hornets advanced the ball into the front court for the inbound, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was called for pushing Rozier before the ball was inbounded. That’s an away-from-the-play foul, meaning the Hornets got a free throw and retained possession. Rozier calmly sank the free throw.
Devonte’ Graham received the next inbound and tried to throw the ball in the air to run out the clock, but the Raptors were granted the foul anyway. He hit both free throws to put the Hornets up three. The Raptors couldn’t get a good look at the basket and their hail mary attempt when begging.
This was an incredibly fun game with an atmosphere that overstated the importance of it. The Hornets played well on both ends of the floor for the most part and showed all of the promise fans have been looking for. All five starters scored between 13 and 18 points, led by the guard duo’s 18 apiece.