Game Preview: Raptors at Hornets
Toronto Raptors (38-16) @ Charlotte Hornets (23-32)
When: Sunday, February 11th, 1:00 P.M. ET
Where: Air Canada Centre
Broadcast info: TSN4/5, SN590
Toronto commanded a dominant 129-111 victory against the Hornets on the road in December, thanks in large part to 28 points from DeMar DeRozan. After a slow start that had the Hornets leading by four after the opening 12 minutes, the Raptors erupted in the second quarter, outscoring Charlotte 41-21 to take a 63-47 lead into the half. Things didn't get better for the Hornets after the break with DeRozan scoring 18 of his 28 points in the second half to help Toronto roll to victory. Serge Ibaka added 24 points and OG Anunoby scored 20 points while shooting 6-for-7 from beyond the arc. Jeremy Lamb had a career-high 32 for the Hornets while Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker scored 15 points apiece in the loss.
LEADING INTO TODAY'S GAME
Injury report: Toronto's injury report is clear. The Hornets have listed Willy Hernangomez as not with the team, following a trade deadline deal that sent him to Charlotte.
Bench mobbing: Toronto's bench has been fantastic all season. In a Thursday victory against the New York Knicks, the reserves exploded for 61 of Toronto's 113 points, outscoring New York's bench by 26 points. Five reserves hit double figures in the game, making it the first time in franchise history that five Toronto players scored at least 10 points off the bench.
Pure heart: After Toronto's victory against the Knicks, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey had high praise for the reserves. "They're playing with a pure heart," he said. "They don't care who scores. When you play that way, good things are going to happen. You may not win all the time, but good things are going to happen for you."
Pass the rock: The Raptors recorded 31 assists on 43 field goals in Thursday's victory. The win moved the team to 32-9 when recording 20+ assists. It also gave them 41 games with at least 20 assists, already surpassing last season's total of 34 games. Toronto is currently ranked 11th in the league with 23.0 assists per game.
Starters watching: Dwane Casey was able to rest his starters for the entirety of the fourth quarter against the Knicks. With Kyle Lowry averaging 32.3 minutes and DeMar DeRozan averaging 34.2 minutes per game, opportunities to rest at the midway point of the season are important. Toronto's bench is doing its best to ensure the starters get a break, and Thursday's game was the 12th time this season that DeRozan and Lowry played 30 minutes or less in a Raptors win.
Double-double time: Jonas Valanciunas had yet another double-double in Toronto's last victory, scoring 18 points to go with 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes. This was Valanciunas' 17th double-double, a team-high. It was also his 18th game with double-digit rebounds. On the season, Valanciunas is averaging 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.