Game Preview: Raptors at Hornets

Holly MacKenzie -

Toronto Raptors (20-8) @ Charlotte Hornets (11-19)

When: Wednesday, December 20th, 7 P.M. ET

Where: Spectrum Center

Broadcast info: SN1, SN590

The Raptors defeated the Hornets 127-113 on Nov. 29 in the first meeting between these teams this season. The Hornets were without star guard Kemba Walker because of a bruised left shoulder and Toronto’s backcourt took advantage as Kyle Lowry scored a season-high 36 points and DeMar DeRozan added 30 points. Though a three-pointer from Nicolas Batum cut Toronto’s advantage to five with 4:43 left, the Raptors never trailed in the game, thanks to a 17-point second-quarter effort from Lowry that helped Toronto build a 19-point halftime lead.

Leading into this afternoon’s game: 

Injury report: Lucas Nogueira is out with a right calf injury. Serge Ibaka is questionable with a sore left knee. For the Hornets, Cody Zeller (left knee surgery) is out, Treveon Graham (back spasms) is questionable and Marcus Paige (two-way contract) is not with the team.

Back-to-back: Wednesday’s game kicks off Toronto’s fourth back-to-back of the season. After facing the Hornets in Charlotte on Wednesday, the Raptors will travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers on Thursday. The contest against the Sixers will also be the first in an away-and-home set with Philadelphia with the 76ers heading to Toronto on Saturday.

Points on the board: Toronto is averaging 110.9 points per game this season. This ranks second in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the NBA. The Raptors have topped 120 points eight times already this year and the Golden State Warriors are the only team to accomplish this more times than Toronto (14). Last year’s Raptors topped the 120-point mark 13 times total.

Extra assists:

Moving up the list: Jonas Valanciunas moved into sole possession of second place on Toronto’s all-time franchise leaders for double-doubles thanks to a 13-point, 16-rebound effort in Toronto’s victory against the Sacramento Kings, Valanciunas earned his 111th career double-double, passing Antonio Davis to move into second place. Chris Bosh is the franchise leader with 239 double-doubles.

Owning the glass: The Hornets enter Wednesday’s contest first in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage at 81.7% and eighth in overall rebounding percentage at 51.7%. Dwight Howard, the team’s leading rebounder, is averaging 12.6 rebounds per game, ranking fourth in the NBA. Howard has recorded 17 double-doubles this season and is averaging 15.9 points to go with his 12.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

Bouncing back: Norman Powell shook off a shooting slump in a big way in Toronto’s victory against the Kings on Sunday. Powell scored 14 points off the bench and had a perfect night from the floor, hitting 5-of-5 field goals, including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. He also added a rebound, an assist and a block as he owned the second-highest +/- on the team (+13), trailing only Lowry (+14).