The Hornets struggled to bring the energy against a depleted Raptors team in an empty arena.
The Hornets provided little resistance defensively to start the game against a very shorthanded Raptors team. That may or may not be related to the lack of fans in the building, which caused a striking lack of energy compared to the usual NBA game. The Raptors took just over half a quarter to score 18 points and force a James Borrego timeout. They only picked up the pace from there. They made five of their first six 3-point attempts and finished with 39 first quarter points. Meanwhile the Hornets shooting woes continued as they made just one of their first nine 3-point attempts. The Hornets lost PJ Washington early on as both he and Justin Champagnie got ejected for a dustup that was a result of several chippy plays on multiple trips up and down the floor. After one, the Hornets trailed by 12.
James Bouknight brought some early energy to the Hornets in the second quarter with aggressive defense and a couple of nice forays to the basket. The Hornets offense came to life, but they couldn’t get the stops on the other end to make it matter. It wasn’t just a matter of the Raptors making shots. The Hornets gave up a bunch of wide open looks and their transition defense was almost not existent. They gave up another 37 points in the second quarter and trailed 76-61 heading into the half.
The Hornets made a push with an 14-2 run to start the second half. The good times wouldn’t last though. The teams traded baskets for a few minutes before the Hornets went ice cold from the field. Miles Bridges threw down a dunk with 4:52 to play in the third. The Hornets wouldn’t make another shot from the field until LaMelo Ball made a jumper at the end-of-quarter buzzer. The Raptors went on a 17-3 run during the cold spell to essentially put the game out of reach.
The teams traded baskets for a big chunk of the fourth quarter as the Hornets failed to make the necessary push to make the game competitive. They played well defensively though, so there’s something to build on I guess.
The Hornets struggled to shoot again after their historically poor shooting night on Sunday, but it wasn’t quite as bad. They shot 10-of-31 from three, but a couple of late 3-pointers from JT Thor inflated that a touch. They countered the rough shooting night with aggressive downhill drives to the basket and a more concerted effort to push the pace. Those are things they can try to build on in the coming games. The defense needs to be better though. There was just no focus or attention to detail on that end in this game.
The Hornets will try to bounce back in Indiana against the Pacers.