Defense, Rebounding Continue To Trouble Hornets In Toronto

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Rozier Scores 30+ PTS Again, Raptors Ride 3-Point Shooting, 4th-Quarter Run in Victory

For the second consecutive outing, night-long defensive issues and ultimately a game-swinging fourth-quarter run by the opponent did the Charlotte Hornets in, this time coming in a 132-120 road loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.

Terry Rozier had his second 30-point game of the road trip (and season) in the loss, finishing with a game-high 33 points on a crisp 14-of-19 shooting, five 3-pointers, five rebounds and five assists. The 73.7% field-goal percentage was a seasonal best for Rozier and the second-highest of his career in any game in which he attempted at least 10 shots (75.0% on March 25, 2018).

Following a frantic first 41 minutes, the Hornets found themselves trailing 108-107 with 7:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. After a missed go-ahead 3-pointer by Rozier, back-to-back right corner triples from O.G. Anunoby kick-started a 14-0 Toronto run over the ensuing three minutes, giving the hosts a 13-point advantage. The damage was done at that point, as Charlotte never threatened the outcome at any point before the final buzzer sounded.

“We didn’t finish some shots that we could have made, we didn’t run back and we didn’t defend,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford after the game, when asked about Toronto’s late run. “Our individual defense, which had been good lately, was awful. They shot these rhythm three-point shots all night and they shot two of them in that [14-0] stretch. Those things just can’t happen. We’ve done it at times. We didn’t do it the other night in the fourth quarter [in Indiana] and we didn’t do it tonight in the fourth quarter.”

LaMelo Ball finished with 24 points and a season-high 14 assists for his ninth double-double of the campaign, while Mason Plumlee (21 points on 9-of-10 shooting) notched his second 20-point game in six appearances. Much like their first two stops of the road trip in Milwaukee and Indiana, the Hornets’ offense was clearly not an issue, but obviously, that’s only half the battle.

Added Clifford, “We shot 55 percent from the floor, 43 [percent] from three, we only had 10 turnovers and we lost the game. When you let a good team like that play to its strengths, which happened right from the start of the game all the way through, it’s going to be hard to win. Everybody has to defend on every night and play well offensively. We do that, we can win. We can’t pick and choose when we want to do the tough things. That’s what we did tonight.”

Toronto got a trio of 20-point games from Pascal Siakam (28), Gary Trent Jr. (24) and Anunoby (22) to notch its fourth consecutive head-to-head home win over the Hornets. The Raptors canned a season-best 20-of-44 3-point attempts (45.5%), won the rebounding battle by 15 (49-34) and turned 18 offensive boards into 20 second-chance points on 9-of-16 shooting.

The Hornets will have a chance for redemption when they face the Toronto Raptors once again on Thursday, Jan. 12 beginning at 7:30 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ FM 92.7.

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