Game Preview: Huskies vs. Hornets
The Raptors return to Toronto to take on the Charlotte Hornets following a disappointing 105-94 loss to the Bulls in Chicago. It was Toronto's third consecutive loss and 11th straight against the Bulls. Charlotte comes to Toronto losers of four of their previous five. The Hornets are also rested, having a three-day break in between games.
Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: TSN/SN590
On Tuesday, the Raptors announced that they had traded Terrence Ross and a first round pick to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Serge Ibaka. Ross, drafted by the Raptors with the eighth overall pick in 2012, heads to Orlando after five seasons in Toronto while Ibaka was the 24th overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The power forward will provide an immediate boost to a Raptors team that has shuffled lineups looking for a permanent starter at that position after dealing with injuries to Patrick Patterson and Jared Sullinger.
Ujiri on the deal
Masai Ujiri spoke with the media on Tuesday evening following the team's announcement of the Ross/Ibaka trade.
"First of all, with plenty of respect, I want to wish Terrence all the best," Ujiri said. "I saw that kid grow from the day we got the job here [in Toronto] to where he is now. It really is remarkable to see where he has come. I do believe the best of his basketball is ahead of him and I thank him for all of the great memories he gave us. [We watched him] actually became a real professional and a big part of our ball club. We wish Terrence the best of luck. In terms of Serge, we're happy to have a player of his calibre. We've kind of looked for this kind of player for awhile. I think he gives our team a good boost, where we are right now, we'll see what it brings us. We welcome Serge."
Ibaka is expected to be in Toronto on Wednesday, but his availability for Wednesday's game is not known. After Tuesday's loss to the Bulls, DeMar DeRozan discussed adding Ibaka to the mix.
"He's a veteran," DeRozan said. "He understands the game. I'm pretty sure he understands our game and how we play. I think he's going to fit in well. He's capable of doing a lot of things on both ends of the floor. We definitely need that and I think he's the perfect person for it."
Enduring a slump
While the Hornets come to Toronto having lost nine of their previous 10 games, Toronto has dropped 11 of its last 15 contests. Tuesday's loss in Chicago was yet another game where a 48-minute effort did not happen. Knowing you're underperforming is not a fun experience.
"It sucks," DeRozan said. "To continue to lose games like this, it's extremely frustrating."
Despite the frustration, team leaders DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have both talked about needing to figure things out quickly to get back on track for the final 26 games of the season.
"Stay together," DeRozan said. "Get though it. It's all about how you finish. We've got to figure it out now so later on down the road we can look back at this time and make sure it was a very valuable lesson."
After such a tough six week stretch, the team knows things won't suddenly be fixed overnight. Dwane Casey said the team is excited to have Ibaka, but that there is no one player who will change everything. DeRozan has stressed the importance of building on successes as they come.
"First of all we've got to take it one game at a time," DeRozan said. "One game isn't going to take away this feeling. It's going to take a game, a week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, to put it all together and play consistent basketball."