For starters, check out Oren and Sahal’s analysis in The Rap Up:
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) March 14, 2021
A 10-point loss isn’t too bad for whoever didn’t watch the game and just glanced at the final score. For those who did brave their way through this one? Woof.
This game ended for most in the first five minutes, where the Hornets jumped out to a 19-2 lead. Apparently, Tony Snell being left wide open for the buzzer-beating loss on Thursday was just foreshadowing to prepare for this tilt. That same theme continued early and often as LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham all made three treys early. Now sprinkle in two more from Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington, which gave Charlotte an NBA record tying 11 threes in the first quarter alone. If you want to re-live that historic misery, we have you covered below.
You could see the frustration from Kyle Lowry on a couple of them as the trend was getting tiresome really quickly. Overall, the Raptors gave up 44 points in the first quarter, one point shy of tying a franchise worst. Toronto is giving up 38.8 points in first quarters over the four games that Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby all haven’t been around to provide any resemblance of perimeter defence.
“The game was moving too fast for us,” Nick Nurse explained to reporters post-game. “They’re a really good transition team, there was just too much happening too quickly. Some guys made some deep shots as well. They were just playing really carefree and fast, just popping it around. Just not contested enough, that’s the bottom line.”
Still, the game in Sacramento earlier this season proved that the Raptors can have a brutal defensive start and get back in the game. Toronto gave up 43 first quarter points in that one and won by 23, albeit with only Lowry missing. So there was a sliver of hope when KLOE’s brilliance sparked a second quarter run to cut the second quarter deficit to as low as 13. Lowry had 16 points and seven assists in the first half.
In the middle of that run, LaMelo added to his eventual Rookie of the Year highlight reel:
— NBA (@NBA) March 14, 2021
Side note: Eric Collins does the Hornets play-by-play commentary and he’s awesome. Collins is starting to get league-wide recognition, and is part of why the Hornets have been a fun team to watch this season.
All hope died early in the third quarter. Charlotte eventually pushed their lead back up to the mid 20’s, finishing with 21 made threes which was one shy of a Raptor franchise record for an opponent. Toronto shot 38.5 percent from the field. Norman Powell (4-14, 13 points) failed to score at least 25 points for the first time over this 5-game skeleton roster run. Chris Boucher busted his lip on an accidental Bismack Biyombo soccer-style header, which needed three stitches. Boucher led the team with 32 minutes, because of how lopsided the score was and the dreaded second game of a back-to-back coming vs the Bulls on Sunday.
Oh, and Tony Brothers had some fun banter with Nurse, who hasn’t witnessed a Raptors win from the sideline since three weeks ago vs Philly.
Wait, I can find some bright spots.
Henry Ellenson made his debut with the big club, after being signed to a 10-day contract following the conclusion of the Raptors 905 season. He drew a charge in his first couple of minutes. Ellenson then had some open looks behind the arc that didn’t fall, but settled in with nine points on 4-9 shooting, nine rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes.
“He showed some resiliency and some IQ out there. Looks like he knows how to play,” Nurse said. “I like the way be battled, I liked his finishing around the basket, he was on the glass pretty well. I think he did a nice job.”
Second round rookie Jalen Harris also scored his first NBA points in the final seconds, off a three from an Ellenson assist.
Hornets undrafted rookie and Halifax native Nate Darling also checked in during the final minutes. Darling became the first Nova Scotia born player in the NBA, so to debut vs the Canadian team is a pretty cool moment. Darling missed his only attempt in four minutes of play.
The Raptors currently sit a shade above the Bulls for 10th in the East. Onto Chicago for another skeleton roster game!