Turnover-Prone Hornets Get Swept In Toronto To Finish Road Trip

Season-High 32 PTS for Ball, But Giveaways and Fouling Crush Charlotte’s Chances

Back-to-back north-of-the-border outings this week for the Charlotte Hornets produced the same result – although for largely different reasons – the second of which was a 124-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night.

LaMelo Ball tallied his second 30-point game of the campaign in the loss, finishing with a season-high 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, four 3-pointers, four rebounds, a team-high seven assists and two steals. Terry Rozier added 21 points, while Mason Plumlee had 16 points on 100% shooting, 15 rebounds and four assists for his fifth double-double in seven appearances.

Much like Tuesday’s meeting, the Raptors raced out of the gates with a 38-point first-quarter showing on 71% shooting, While Toronto led by 18 in the second quarter, Charlotte continued to hang around, but never really got within striking distance until an 8-1 run late in the fourth pulled the visitors to within five with 1:39 to go. However, the comeback win slipped away for good following a missed layup by Ball leading into a dagger corner 3-pointer by Fred VanVleet.

Despite the last-ditch efforts, the Hornets were ultimately undone in this one thanks to a season-high 22 turnovers leading to 26 Toronto points. Charlotte, which shot 53% and 39% from 3-point range, also committed its most fouls in any non-overtime game this season (30) and conceded 36 free-throw attempts (Toronto made 28, good for a 78% clip), tied for the third-highest total for any opponent on the year, as well.

“I’m disappointed in the fouling and the turnovers. That was the game,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford afterwards. “Our effort was good. We gave ourselves a chance to win in the last two minutes. There were a couple plays that we could have made. The game was the turnovers, which they’re good at. We didn’t take care of the ball and then the fouling.”

He added, “If you want to give yourself a chance to win and build a game where you could eventually be a playoff-type team, there’s things you have to be good at. Like for instance, the free-throw game, that’s a big deal. The turnover game, that’s a big deal. The rebounding game, that’s a big deal. Those are things that speak to discipline of play. The teams that are able to say, do two out of three of those, they’re going to give themselves a chance to win every night. This is not a league where you can make a lot of mistakes and win. It’s just not.”

Pascal Siakam had 35 points on 11-of-13 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists for the Raptors, who won a third consecutive game for the first time the season. Scottie Barnes nearly triple-doubled with 21 points, eight rebounds and game-high nine assists, while fellow starters Gary Trent Jr. (19), O.G. Anunoby (15) and VanVleet (11) also scored in double figures.

The Hornets will return home for another two-game set against the Boston Celtics starting on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 7 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ FM 92.7.

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