Hornets’ Late Comeback Comes Up Short Against Raptors

The Charlotte Hornets got a better start like they were hoping for, but it couldn’t withstand a game-long barrage of three-pointers by the Toronto Raptors, leading to a slim 111-108 road loss on Thursday, Jan. 14 in Tampa, FL.

PJ Washington led the way for the visitors with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, a game-high 11 rebounds and two blocks, marking the first time in his NBA career he’s posted consecutive double-double performances. This was also just the second time Washington has notched a 20-10 game, the first occasion coming in Portland on Jan. 13, 2020.

Down 31-23 about 10 minutes into the game, Toronto closed out the first quarter on a 12-3 run and then outscored the Hornets, 36-28, in the second to head into halftime holding a nine-point lead. Charlotte’s defense started to tighten up over the final two frames, holding the Raptors to just 40 second-half points and helping fuel a comeback that put the team down by five with just under a minute left.

After a LaMelo Ball dunk made it a one-possession game, the Raptors burned over 30 seconds off the clock with two missed shots sandwiched around a timely offensive rebound. The Hornets finally got a chance to tie the score on the other end, but Washington’s three-point attempt grazed off the rim shortly before the final buzzer sounded.

“I’m proud of our guys. Second night of a back-to-back, to play with that energy and resiliency, I thought our guys were fantastic,” said Coach Borrego afterwards. “They never dropped the sword, kept playing, kept competing. We had some costly offensive rebounds down the stretch that we weren’t able to gather and the turnover game. I liked a lot of what I saw tonight.”

Terry Rozier led seven total Charlotte players in double figures with a team-high 22 points and five assists. Devonte’ Graham (15 points), Ball (14), Miles Bridges (12), Bismack Biyombo (10) and Malik Monk (10) also crossed the 10-point threshold with Ball adding 11 assists for his third double-double in five appearances. Caleb Martin chipped in five points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals starting in place of the injured Gordon Hayward (left hip strain).

Toronto got a game-high 25 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks from reserve center Chris Boucher and a second double-double from Kyle Lowry (16 points and a game-high 12 assists) as well. Fred VanVleet (17 points), Pascal Siakam (15), OG Anunoby (13) and Norman Powell (11) also all had at least 10 points for the host Raptors.

The Raptors connected on a blistering 20-of-50 three-point attempts (40%), the most makes by any Hornets opponent so far this season. Charlotte’s offense bounced back from a tough performance on Wednesday night to shoot 48% and 43% from the field and three (15-of-35), respectively. Both sides had trouble holding onto the ball and stopping transition baskets, leading to 38 combined turnovers and 55 points off takeaways.

These teams will meet again for a rematch on Saturday, Jan. 16 starting at 7:30 PM EST in Tampa, FL. Catch all the action on Fox Sports Southeast, the Fox Sports GO app and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM