So much for the good vibes and moral victory talk after the spirited effort against LeBron and the Cavaliers on Wednesday. The Raptors were sluggish for the entirety of tonight's game and deservedly got beat comfortably by the Charlotte Hornets tonight.
Charlotte has long been a bogey team for Toronto, but there was reason to believe they'd turn things around in this matchup. Kemba Walker was out injured, and the Raptors had a seemingly big boost in the return of Kyle Lowry from a week's rest. Terrence Ross returned to the starting lineup for the Raps too, as they looked to get some spacing back in their starting five offensively.
The game was decided by two big runs. After keeping the lead manageable for most of the first half, Charlotte was allowed to suddenly break the game open to double digits to end 2nd Q up 53-44. The Raptors had a 4-minute spell during which they only scored two points. Then, after clawing back in the third frame, the Raps once again let the game get away from them in the middle stages of the fourth quarter. After scoring three points in a horrible seven minute spell, during which Charlotte took a 97-78 lead, the game was just about done. Lowry hit four 3s in garbage time to make the scoreline look more respectable than it really was.
In all, the Raptors shot 40 percent on the night, and were out-rebounded 56 to 32. Al Jefferson put up an ultra-impressive 23-11-5 on 11-21 shooting. Mo Williams torched the Raptors' perimeter defence to the tune of 23 points on 14 shots and seven assists. Lance Stephenson was effective in a bench role as well, pitching in 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
- Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Lou Williams, and Greivis Vasquez took 62 of the 91 shots tonight. They had 9 assists between them. The majority of those shots were contested and mid-long range. Start there if you want to try and diagnose the Raptors' offensive issues.
- Conversely, the most efficient offensive player on the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas, went 2-3, and was a +6 in only 23 minutes. Try to figure that one out.
- DeMar's numbers look good, but he's still taking the same shots that had him going 6 for 18 shooting on a game to game basis. He and Lou suffer from the same problem -- their shot selection is too poor for them to find any consistency long term. 30 points on 26 shots for DeMar. 1-9 shooting for Lou.
Last Raptors win in Charlotte: Mar. 29, 2010 (8 straight losses)— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) March 7, 2015
The Raps have only beaten the Sixers in the last two weeks.— Zach Salzmann (@ZSalzmann) March 7, 2015
So, it appears this Raptors squad is in a serious rut. Next up are OKC and San Antonio. Thoughts?