CHARLOTTE, N.C. -The Charlotte Hornets were finally back in action for the first time in nine months, but will have to wait just a little longer to pick up their first win of any kind as they fell to the Toronto Raptors, 111-100, in their preseason opener on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Spectrum Center.
Charlotte ripped off a 22-0 run in the middle of the first to open up a 19-point lead before Toronto surged back with a 52-26 stretch to claim a seven-point edge heading into the break. Fifteen first-half giveaways by the Hornets compared to just three by Toronto played a big role in the visitors getting back in the game.
The Raptors then kept on rolling in the second half, pushing the advantage to double figures just a few minutes into the third and never looked back. Charlotte finished the night with 23 giveaways leading to 28 opposing points, which was ultimately the deciding factor.
“Good start – I liked what I saw there,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego after the game. “Their pressure picked up and we didn’t respond appropriately. These are the growing pains that we’re going to go through early. I saw some good stuff, we’ve got a lot to clean up. We’ll add as we go, but it was good to see our guys play and compete out there for the first time.”
He added, “Turnovers are always a concern. It’s something that we’re targeting this year. We have to win the possession game. Obviously, this was not the start we wanted as far as protecting the ball and valuing the basketball. I think it’s a number of things – sloppiness, poor spacing, not knowing each other, playing at a high pace and [Toronto’s] physicality. That’s just not going to get it done. That’s not going to be winning basketball for us.”
Miles Bridges (12 points), Bismack Biyombo (11) and Gordon Hayward (11) all scored in double figures for Charlotte in the loss. Rookie LaMelo Ball added a game-high 10 rebounds and a team-high four assists off the bench and PJ Washington chipped in eight points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Reserve Matt Thomas paced Toronto with a game-high 16 points (4-of-7 from three) and five assists, while Terence Davis II (13) and OG Anunoby (11) each crossed the double-digit plateau. Fred VanVleet tallied another nine points, five assists and a game-high five steals as well.
Toronto’s bench outscored its Charlotte counterpart by a 74-57 margin, although lost the battle on the boards, 54-46. The hosts shot just 26-of-41 from the line (63.4%) and 10-of-29 from downtown (34.5%), compared to the Raptors, who went 19-of-52 from deep (36.5%).
The Hornets will host the Raptors again on Monday, Dec. 14 for a 7 PM EST tipoff at Spectrum Center.