McGowens Notches First Career 20-PT Game, Richards and Maledon Double-Double in Defeat
The Charlotte Hornets made some tweaks to the gameplan in their second meeting with the Toronto Raptors in three days on Tuesday evening, although the turnovers continued to be an issue in a 120-100 home loss at Spectrum Center.
Rookie Bryce McGowens blew past his previous career high for single-game scoring in the loss, going for 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, six rebounds and three assists. Both Nick Richards (18 points and 11 rebounds) and Théo Maledon (13 points and 11 assists) double-doubled, with the latter’s marking the third of his career and second of the points-assists variety.
Charlotte built itself a 29-25 advantage by the end of the first quarter, but Toronto took control as the turnover differential widened in the second to enter halftime leading, 61-49. The Hornets were on pace to claim the third quarter again just like they did on Sunday, before the Raptors ripped off a 14-0 frame-closing stretch to go up by 19, which essentially sealed the game.
“Ball pressure, passing-lane pressure led to live-ball turnovers,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford afterwards, when asked about the team’s 18 giveaways. “It was 22-10 in points off turnovers. It was really that stretch, we were right there – I think [we were down] nine – then we had three turnovers in five possessions at the end of the third. That was the big stretch.”
“I feel like as a team, [the Raptors] have great physicality on the defensive end and the offensive end,” stated McGowens. “Turnovers were a big part of this game for us, and the first game. I feel like in both games, we came in and competed, played hard. I felt like tonight, the effort was still there. We executed on the defensive end, it’s just transition buckets. We gave up a lot of those.”
Svi Mykhailiuk (17 points) and JT Thor (13 points, 11 in the third quarter) made it so all five Charlotte starters finished in double figures. Once again, the Hornets posted a pretty good efficiency – 46.8% and 38.7% from 3-point range – but the turnover disparity (Toronto only had seven) nullified much of that shot-making success.
Pascal Siakam (22), Chris Boucher (21) and Will Barton (20) all had 20-point games for the Raptors, who swept the season series with the Hornets for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign. Coming off a rare 20-point, 20-assist performance two days ago, Fred VanVleet settled for 16 points, six assists, a season-high-tying four steals and zero turnovers in the victory.
Added Clifford, “We were a lot more aggressive [on VanVleet]. We double-teamed all his pick-and-rolls because he crushed us, then at halftime, he had six assists and no turnovers. If you put two to the ball, he moves it, and they get an open shot. He’s a terrific player. He didn’t care if he scored. Then when we were more single coverage in the third and fourth quarter, he hurt us. He took what the game gave him, and that’s why he’s so good.”
The Hornets will wrap up their four-game homestand and play their regular season home finale against the Houston Rockets on Friday, April 7 beginning at 7 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.