LaMelo Ball (14 points, 11 assists) and PJ Washington (20 points, 11 rebounds) notched double doubles, but the Charlotte Hornets couldn’t complete the come back over the Toronto Raptors and their 20 made 3-pointers. They lost 111-108.
The Hornets came out sloppy on the defensive end, allowing some really easy looks for the Raptors. By quarter’s end, the Raptors had hit 8-of-14 3-pointers. Offensively, the Hornets didn’t look quite as connected without Gordon Hayward on the floor to help move the offense. They were still able to grind out some buckets before getting a jolt from LaMelo Ball’s passing. He dropped five dimes in the opening quarter including a full court alley oop to Miles Bridges and a kick out to Malik Monk for his first 3-pointer of the season. After one, the Hornets trailed 35-34.
The Hornets defensive struggles continued into the second quarter. Norman Powell and Chris Boucher combined to score the Raptors first 13 points of the period, and it took them less than four minutes to do so. A timeout did little to stem the tide, as the Raptors grew as large as 15. A couple of assists from Ball to PJ Washington cut the deficit to 10, a pair of Malik Monk 3-pointers cut it even further, and then a pair of Devonte’ Graham 3-pointers cut it all the way down to three. The Raptors punched back and pulled away a little bit, taking a 71-62 lead into the half.
The halftime intermission did little to cool off the Raptors. They hit several more 3-pointers and added to their lead, at one point leading by 18. Terry Rozier helped buoy the Hornets offense with some impressive shot making early in the quarter, and a little mini-run by Ball and Miles Bridges helped cut the deficit down to 13 by quarter’s end.
The Hornets scored eight straight points to start the fourth quarter, forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. The Raptors took almost five minutes to score their first basket. The Raptors counterpunch was countered by Miles Bridges ruining the life of Chris Boucher, followed by LaMelo Ball splashing a deep triple.
Ball saved the Hornets on what looked like it would be a disastrous play. PJ was knocked to the ground trying to track down a lob from Devonte’ Graham, but LaMelo Ball tracked down the loose ball and dunked it to pull the Hornets within three. The Raptors had a chance to put the game away on the other end, but PJ Washington blocked Boucher’s dagger dunk attempt. Washington had a chance to be the hero on offense, but his game-tying 3-point attempt went begging.
Ball’s double double was his third in his last five games. He also chipped in three steals and six rebounds. Terry Rozier scored 22 points, many of which came in the second half. Miles Bridges and Malik Monk joined Ball in double figures off the bench.
The Hornets will have a chance to exact revenge against the Raptors on Saturday.