Late Toronto Rally Spoils Chance at First Summer League Win

Raptors Close Game on 16-4 Run, Charlotte Suffers 2nd Straight 1-Point Loss
by Sam Perley

MORE GAME COVERAGE: Photo Gallery | Video - JT Thor Turns Back Dunk in Emphatic Fashion | Coach Dutch Gaitley | JT Thor | Scottie Lewis

Just minutes away from that illusive first NBA Summer League victory, the Charlotte Hornets committed a series of mistakes down the stretch of Saturday night’s game before losing to the Toronto Raptors, 80-79, at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, NV.

James Bouknight led the Hornets in scoring again with 14 points and five assists, while fellow first-round rookie Kai Jones just missed out on a double-double with nine points and 16 rebounds. Xavier Sneed (13 points), JT Thor (10) and Scottie Lewis (10) also scored in double figures, with Grant Riller chipping in nine points and seven assists.

After a lackluster opening 10 minutes of play, Charlotte found its groove in the second quarter, closing the frame on a 13-4 run to take a 37-28 lead into halftime. The Hornets kept that same energy coming out of the break, then used another 8-0 quarter-closing stretch to ride a 13-point advantage into the fourth. 

With the Hornets still leading by 11 and 6:23 to go, a Scottie Barnes dunk kicked off what ended up being a game-ending 16-4 stretch for Toronto. Barnes eventually tied the game at 79-79 at the 20-second mark and then after a quick Scottie Lewis turnover and foul, Dalano Banton split the free throws to put the Raptors up one. Xavier Sneed managed to draw a shooting foul at the other end with 1.8 seconds remaining, but couldn’t connect on either shot from the line.

“First thing is, I have to do a better job of putting these guys in a situation to be successful,” said Head Coach Dutch Gaitley afterwards. “A lot of our guys haven’t been in this situation. We don’t have a lot of NBA experience. Everything is just a great learning tool. We’ve been in every single game, the last two came down to the last couple plays. These are great learning tools for our guys. We did some good things. This is only going to help our guys in their development.”

Barnes, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, recorded a game-high 23 points, five rebounds and four assists for Toronto in the win. Newcomer Precious Achiuwa added 18 points and six rebounds and Malachi Flynn tallied a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals as the Raptors moved to 3-1 in Las Vegas. 

Charlotte got a handle on its turnover issues in Friday afternoon’s loss to San Antonio, but they came roaring back around in this one to the tune of 25 giveaways leading to 28 Toronto points. On a positive note, the team did connect on 14-of-27 three-point attempts (51.9%) and held the Raptors to just 5-of-26 shooting in this area (19.2%).

The Hornets will play one final Summer League contest against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, Aug. 16 beginning at 10 PM EDT at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Catch the action on NBATV or WatchESPN. 

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