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HORNETS VS. NETS

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TOMORROW AT 7:00 PM

Hornets Heading North of the Border to Face Raptors

by Sam Perley

A season-high-tying third-straight win is on the line for the Charlotte Hornets tonight as leg two of their road trip gets underway against the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors starting at 7:30 PM EST.

The Hornets are riding back-to-back wins, both being capped by last-second three-pointers from Malik Monk and then Devonte’ Graham. Despite falling behind by at least 14 points in both games, Charlotte has responded impressively in the second half of each outing, says rookie forward P.J. Washington, who is coming off a 19-point performance against the Knicks.

“I think in both games we had great second halves. We played great on the defensive end in both second halves,” said Washington after the team’s win in New York on Saturday evening. “It was a lot easier for us to come back. We didn’t give up a lot of second-chance points. That was a big emphasis coming out of halftime for us. We got the job done and I’m just excited to have two in a row.”

The 8-4 Raptors will be a bit short-handed in this one, although are still getting massive returns from last year’s Most Improved Player Award winner, Pascal Siakam. The Cameroonian forward is averaging 26.2 PPG (ninth in NBA), 8.7 RPG and 4.1 APG over his first 12 appearances, while G Fred VanVleet is also putting up a career-high 17.7 PPG (40.0% from 3P) and 7.6 APG.

Toronto currently owns the NBA’s seventh-best defensive rating (103.0) and is ranked first in fast-breaking scoring (21.7 PPG) and tied for fourth in opposing paint points allowed (43.2 PPG). Charlotte has had an average of just 10.5 turnovers over its last two games and will need to be mindful with possessions once again if they want to snag a big road win up in Ontario.

Game Notes: G Kyle Lowry (fractured left thumb), F Serge Ibaka (right ankle sprain) and G Patrick McCaw (right knee surgery) will not play for Toronto…. Charlotte went 2-1 against the Raptors last season (won last two meetings).

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