It wouldn’t a Raptors-Hornets game without some shenanigans at the end, right? Last night’s matchup between the Las Vegas Summer League versions of the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets didn’t disappoint.
Well, it may have disappointed if you were looking for actual quality basketball, especially in the first half. It was ugly, as the teams had more turnovers than points partway through the first quarter.
But the second half was a showcase for the Raptors’ new lottery pick, Scottie Barnes, who was sensational in a late 16-4 Raptors run. Then, with the score tied at 79 and 18 seconds on the clock... well, it’s time to bust out my favourite segment:
From the “Never Seen That One” Before Dept.
I have never seen a player flub an inbounds pass like this before.
What on earth just happened here? #WeTheNorth #NBATwitter pic.twitter.com/5SuAaPDfHJ— (@DocNaismith) August 15, 2021
Looks to me like the Hornets’ Scottie Lewis lost the handle a bit on the inbounds there, allowing Dalano Banton to swoop in and get fouled (he hit 1 of 2 free throws to give the Raptors the lead and the W). I suppose it could have happened to anyone, but tossing an inbounds that casually in a tie game with 20 seconds to go is sub-optimal, as they say.
Of course, the Hornets still had time, but then Xavier Sneed missed two free throws with one second on the clock, and the game was Toronto’s.
Zaniness, as we’ve come to expect from these two teams.
Scottie Barnes was already turning a lot of skeptics into believers with his defense, and I suspect the second half last night clinched a few more. He made an impact on both sides of the ball, and was likely exactly what Raptors management had in mind when they drafted him fourth overall. Barnes had 18 points in the half, on 8-of-13 shooting, with two rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. He also had the game-tying dunk that led to Banton’s winning FT:
Scottie Barnes finishes the breakaway jam to tie it up with 20 seconds to go on NBA TV! #NBASummer pic.twitter.com/pZlNp4zBYl— NBA (@NBA) August 15, 2021
Now, I won’t be fully convinced until I learn whether or not the 2021-22 Raptors can score; defense was not their biggest problem the last two seasons, scoring in non-transition situations was, and I’m not sure Barnes (or anyone else they picked up this summer) helps with that challenge. But Barnes is showing more than I expected, I’ll admit.
Finger guns FTW
Well, this was awesome:
MORE DUNKS FOR YOUR HEADTOP pic.twitter.com/JbYhauzJeH— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 15, 2021
A good old-fashioned facial and the Shawn Kemp-esque finger guns? Oh hell yeah, give me some of that swagger!
This is only my second game watching Precious Achiuwa play with the Raps (I missed Thursday’s) but I like him more and more. Between he and Khem Birch, with Chris Boucher sprinkled in, it looks like the Raptors might have solved their big man problem (only a year too late, RIP 2020-21). Achiuwa finished with 18 points and 6 boards, and was a +14 on the night.
Hook it into my veins
Malachi Flynn came in to the NBA last season with a rep for being a great pick-and-roll guard, but we didn’t get to see that much of it last season. Seeing him connect with Achiuwa here is a sight for sore eyes:
Textbook execution pic.twitter.com/0g3sGlUIGi— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 15, 2021
The Raptors desperately missed the Kyle Lowry > Serge Ibaka PnR last season. Maybe they can get a little of that mojo back from Flynn and Achiuwa.
Oh, Not This Again
Last year the Raptors gave up a lot of three pointers; they were 26th in opponents three-pointers made and 24th in opponents three-point FG percentage. Summer League has given us a couple games of annoying deja vu.
The Hornets were 14-for-17 from downtown last night, and the Warriors shot 15-for-32 agaisnt the Raptors on Wednesday. Thankfully the Knicks and Rockets both shot poorly against the Raps in their matchups, and of course, it’s Summer League but still — I do not want to watch another season of opponents just raining down triples all night against the Raptors.
The Raptors will play one more Summer League game this week (time and opponent TBD, but it’ll be on Tuesday, maybe?) and that’ll be the last chance for some of the fringe guys to make an impact before training camp. Freddie Gillespie in particular has had a rough summer league; let’s hope he fares better on Tuesday.