The start of the game was not NBA basketball. The Hornets turned the ball over four times before they even attempted a shot from the field (though Devonte’ Graham did get to the line one time). Meanwhile, the Raptors missed their first five shots and turned the ball over four times in the same span. And these weren’t NBA turnovers. They were things like players stepping on lines or dropping open passes out of bounds (and not just Biz). The Hornets were able to get their act together before the Raptors and jumped out to a 12-2 lead. The Raptors responded by also getting their act together and getting hot from three once again. They went on a 20-4 run to lead by as many as seven, but LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges splashed deep triples sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Norman Powell to cut the deficit to four at the end of the first quarter.
The Raptors scored on their first four possessions of the second quarter to build up a double digit lead. Caleb Martin finally put a stop to that by swatting a Malachi Flynn layup off the glass, which led to a run out and a pair of Malik Monk free throws. The Raptors made five straight 3-pointers spread across multiple possessions while Gordon Hayward was a one man show for the Hornets on offense.
The Raptors finally started missing their 3-pointers as the half wound down, and it allowed the Hornets cut out a significant part of their deficit, thanks in large part to Terry Rozier. He hit a couple catch-and-shoot triples before cutting the Raptors lead down to two with this shot to end the half.
Terry Rozier with 6 points in the final 9.1 seconds. Here's the buzzer beater before half: pic.twitter.com/qHGnauXdke— Buzz Beat (@BuzzBeatPod) January 17, 2021
The Hornets jumped on the Raptors with a 6-0 run to recapture the lead and force Nick Nurse to take a timeout. Most of the third quarter was rather uneventful, with the game being played around that margin. The Hornets went cold for about three-and-a-half minutes during the second half of the quarter, during which time the Raptors went on a 9-0 run that was eventually broken by a smooth LaMelo Ball finger roll. The Hornets got a couple more buckets off beautiful interior passing and took a one point deficit into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets took the lead with a nice left handed layup from Rozier, and then Kyle Lowry dropped the ball out of bounds on the ensuing inbound. The Raptors weren’t deterred and went back to making all of the 3-pointers. The Raptors first nine field goal attempts of the quarter were all from deep, and four of them went in. The Hornets had another extended cold spell that lasted longer than the first one, during which time a tie game turned into a five point Raptors lead. Devonte’ Graham finally got the Hornets offense with five straight points with about two minutes to play. Terry Rozier hit back to back 3-pointers, one from each corner, to tie the game. Kyle Lowry broke the tie with a stepback midrange jump shot with a little over 30 seconds left to play.
The Raptors blew up the Hornets attempt at an answer, and it ended in a shot clock violation. Fred VanVleet hit a pair of free throws to seemingly ice the game, but Devonte’ Graham hit a pull-up three in all sorts of traffic to pull the Hornets back within one. After another pair of free throws, Terry Rozier’s game-tying 3-point attempt came up short due to OG Anunoby bumping Rozier’s lower body. The referees missed the contact, and the game came to an end.
Gordon Hayward scored 25 points, Rozier 24, and Graham 20. PJ Washington registered his third straight double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and he even dished out five assists to boot. Miles Bridges had a good game off the bench, making a number of good passes and playing with tremendous energy.
The Hornets will look to snap their losing streak after three days of rest against the Wizards on Wednesday.