The Toronto Raptors have saved their season.....for now!
In their first meeting of the season, Toronto took care of business against the visiting Charlotte Hornets with an impressive 132-120 victory. There’s no sugar-coating that this has been a difficult half-season (yes, we’re officially halfway through already!), filled with inconsistent performance, injuries, and finger-pointing.
But these last two games against the Blazers and Hornets are the closest the Raptors have looked to the pre-season darlings that everyone hoped to see. Turnovers were created. Threes were falling. Reserves allowed the starters to rest while protecting (and growing) leads.
The unfortunate news that Otto Porter Jr. had surgery on his dislocated toe and is now out for the season, also confirms that this is the healthiest the Raptors will be all season. Considering how well they’ve played lately, albeit with some defensive lapses, in addition to having one of the easiest remaining schedules, there are no more excuses for turning this season around.
Can they keep the momentum going on this critical homestand?
BIG DUB last night— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 11, 2023
Game Highlights | @TangerineHoops
Watch : https://t.co/rJl5qhYLFM pic.twitter.com/Jxa5odFG9V
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 7:30pm EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes
Charlotte – LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee
Toronto – Dalano Banton (G League assignment — OUT), Ron Harper Jr. (G League assignment — OUT), Otto Porter Jr. (Dislocated toe — OUT)
Charlotte – James Bouknight (G League assignment — OUT), Gordon Hayward (Hamstring — DOUBTFUL), Kelly Oubre (Hand — OUT)
The power of three
Insert the Oprah meme because you get a three, and you get a three, and you get a three.....
- On Tuesday, the Raptors poured in a season-high 20 three-pointers.
- O.G. Anunoby — who wears jersey #3, of course — tied a career-best with 6 triples.
- In each of the last three seasons (there’s that number again), the Raptors have won the first two matchups with the Hornets, before losing in the third meeting.
- For the sixth, and hopefully last time this season, Toronto will try to secure a three-game win streak.
Death, taxes, Rozier vs. Raptors
Oh, you thought I was going to point out how Terry Rozier always cooks the Raptors?
Scary Terry has had his moments against the Raptors. In the last meeting between Charlotte and Toronto (before Wednesday’s matchup), Rozier was a ridiculous +46 in a 32-point blowout win in Charlotte. He led the way with 23 points and 9 rebounds. He also accumulated 46 points and 8 threes in a Tampa doubleheader. The Hornets lost both games by three, but Terry constantly kept Charlotte in striking distance.
On Tuesday, Rozier had his best game against the Raptors. His 33 points were the most he’s ever scored against Toronto, and his 14 field goals were the most he’s ever made while attempting less than 20 shots.
All of that is well and good, but here’s my favourite Rozier stat: He’s 1-12 when playing on the road against the Raptors.
Regression to the mean?
The Hornets entered Tuesday’s matchup in Toronto with the league’s worst field goal percentage and 2nd-worst three-point field goal percentage.
So, naturally, Charlotte produced their 3rd-best field goal shooting performance and 3rd-best three-point shooting out.
On the other side, Toronto entered the game with the worst three-point field goal percentage... and finished with 20 three-pointers for the first time since March 2021.
Up is down and down is up. You take what you can when you’re desperate for wins. The Raptors still have an uphill climb to contention. (I’ll leave that open for interpretation on which type of contention you think they should strive for!)