Maybe Sunday’s Charlotte Hornets loss was predestined when the NBA schedule came out, but the extent to which the Toronto Raptors clobbered the home team was striking.
The Hornets opened this matinee with a 10-0 run. That’s the last you saw of their chances to break what is now a four-game losing streak. The Raptors blew away the Hornets 123-103 at Spectrum Center.
The third quarter settled this one, when the Hornets made just seven of their 22 attempts from the field. Meanwhile, the Raptors, contenders to win the Eastern Conference, shot 11-of-22 in those 12 minutes. Toronto (39-16) led by as many as 36 points.
The Hornets were coming off a four-game trip around the Western Conference, in which they went 1-3. They are now 23-33.
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DeMar DeRozan finished with 25 points for the Raptors. Point guard Kemba Walker totaled 23 points and nine assists for the Hornets, and center Dwight Howard added 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Three who mattered
DeRozan: He is such an efficient throwback to a time when shooting guards lived off the midrange game.
C.J. Miles: The Raptors reserve had a dunk in the second half that was a SportsCenter moment.
Walker: He played tough and well, considering how tough this schedule has been of late.
▪ Every NBA team’s schedule has a booby trap or two, and right now is one for the Hornets. In four days, they went from the West Coast (Portland, Ore.) to playing in high altitude (Salt Lake City) to a cross-country flight, to playing a day game at home. Coach Steve Clifford said several players went directly from the airplane Saturday to the arena for cold-tub treatments to stave off stiffness and soreness.
▪ While this was reserve center Cody Zeller’s sixth game back from knee surgery, he is still not back to unrestricted playing minutes. Clifford said Zeller is limited to about 22 minutes per game, and it will stay that way until after the All-Star break.
▪ New Hornets center Willy Hernangomez, acquired in trade last week from the New York Knicks, has joined the team, but was not activated Sunday. Hernangomez’s first practice with the Hornets will be Tuesday, after the Hornets have a day off Monday. Hornets center Dwight Howard offered Hernangomez some advice on how the Hornets operate during the Sunday-morning walk-through before the Raptors game.
▪ While power forward Marvin Williams started Sunday, Clifford said Williams was experiencing some soreness in the left ankle that he sprained recently, causing him to miss four games.
▪ The Hornets honored Walker pregame for passing Dell Curry as the Hornets’ career leader in 3-pointers made.
▪ The All-Star break can’t come soon enough; the Hornets play the Magic in Orlando Wednesday, then have more than a week off from games. They look particularly tired after this most recent West Coast trip, when they went 1-3.
▪ The Hornets play 15 of their remaining 26 games this season on the road, where they are 8-18 this season. That’s a brutal way to chase a playoff spot.
▪ Had Walker not been named an injury replacement, the Hornets wouldn’t have had a player in any of the All-Star Weekend activities. The All-Star Weekend is in Charlotte in 2019, and the team has a large contingent of the business operation – roughly 15 people – headed to Los Angeles to prepare to host the event.
F OFFENSE: Nic Batum’s 0-of-10 from the field sticks out, but he wasn’t alone in poor shooting Sunday.
F DEFENSE: The Raptors scored 129 points in their previous trip to Charlotte this season, and maintained that pace the second time around.
D COACHING: The schedule has been brutal, so this was a scheduled loss, but it’s hard to be beaten more thoroughly at home.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell
Raptors 123, Hornets 103
TORONTO (123)—Anunoby 0-0 0-0 0, Ibaka 5-8 0-0 10, Valanciunas 9-14 1-4 21, Lowry 4-9 0-0 12, DeRozan 10-19 2-2 25, Miles 8-11 2-2 24, Powell 1-2 0-0 2, Siakam 4-5 0-0 9, Poeltl 2-6 0-0 4, Nogueira 1-1 0-0 2, VanVleet 4-6 0-0 10, Wright 0-4 2-2 2, Richardson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 49-87 7-10 123.
CHARLOTTE (103)—Kidd-Gilchrist 4-7 1-2 9, Williams 3-7 0-0 6, Howard 7-11 3-4 17, Walker 7-17 5-6 23, Batum 0-10 2-3 2, Bacon 0-0 0-0 0, Kaminsky 3-8 2-2 10, Zeller 4-7 1-3 10, Monk 2-5 0-0 5, Carter-Williams 3-5 1-1 8, Graham 0-2 0-0 0, Lamb 5-10 2-2 13, Stone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-89 17-23 103.
3-Point Goals—Toronto 18-37 (Miles 6-9, Lowry 4-9, DeRozan 3-6, Valanciunas 2-2, VanVleet 2-3, Siakam 1-1, Powell 0-1, Richardson 0-1, Wright 0-2, Ibaka 0-3), Charlotte 10-23 (Walker 4-6, Kaminsky 2-4, Zeller 1-1, Carter-Williams 1-1, Lamb 1-2, Monk 1-4, Graham 0-1, Batum 0-2, Williams 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Toronto 40 (Valanciunas 9), Charlotte 42 (Howard 13). Assists—Toronto 35 (DeRozan 8), Charlotte 26 (Walker 9). Total Fouls—Toronto 24, Charlotte 13. Technicals—Toronto coach Raptors (Defensive three second). A—18,320 (19,077).