Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from miracle loss to Charlotte Hornets

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors forced themselves back into the game against the Charlotte Hornets, only to lose on a half-court buzzer beater. What did we take away from the game, though?

The Toronto Raptors welcomed back Kyle Lowry to the squad after he missed the last two games due to injury. The opponents would be the Charlotte Hornets, who toppled the Boston Celtics the previous night, thanks to an incredible comeback that coincided with a 30-5 run in favor of Kemba Walker and the Hornets.

The Raptors had the opportunity to field a fully healthy team for only the third time this season, and the first time since acquiring Marc Gasol before the trade deadline. The full bill of health had a desired effect in the first quarter, the Raptors had 11 assists on 10 made field-goals and were shooting lights out, Pascal Siakam had 11 points early on to get the Raptors rolling.

Things began to slip in the second quarter, even if the Raptors did shoot 55-percent from the field (10-18). Turning the ball over seven times in the quarter didn’t help the Raptors, as they let the Hornets back into the game. The Hornets, in particular, Kemba Walker, got to the free-throw line at will, shooting 100-percent in the first half. As did the Raptors though, and Charlotte led by one at half time.

The Hornets carried on shooting lights out in the third quarter, especially from deep. They put up 37 points in the quarter and hit 10-16 from three-point range, defensively, the Raptors didn’t have an answer for the Hornets floor spacing.

Streets were closed as the Raptors hosted a block party in the fourth quarter. Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam were the main culprits in protecting the rim. The Raptors cut the Hornets lead down with an 18-3 run and looked like they were on course to win the game in the final seconds.

There were still 3.1 seconds left in the game, though. Jeremy Lamb made them count. Siakam poked the ball loose on the inbound and forced Lamb back into his own half. It was a heave of the highest order from Lamb as time expired, a pure miracle shot, but it banked in. The Hornets took the victory from the Raptors grasp.

You can’t even be mad at it, because it was amazing. It really was.

Here are my three big takeaways from the loss to the Hornets.

Turnovers and rebounds cause issues

There aren’t too many concerns for the Raptors heading into the postseason, but over the last ten games turnovers have been a real issue for the Raptors and that was no different against the Hornets.

Toronto turned the ball over 13 times over the course of the game, compared to only seven turnovers from the Hornets. The Raptors tightened up in the fourth quarter and (only) turned it over three times in the final twelve minutes, but those 13 turnovers led to 18 points off of turnovers for the road team, and it hurt.

The Hornets killed the Raptors on the offensive glass too, totaling 14 offensive rebounds in the game, compared to the Raptors three. Offensive boards lead to more shot attempts which can ultimately lead to more points. It’s a fairly simple process, and one the Raptors need to figure out in the long run.

As does the Hornets three-point shooting

Admittedly, both teams shot the three-pointer well. The Raptors shot 42-percent while the Hornets shot just a smidge higher at 43-percent. It was the sheer volume of three-pointers that hurt the Raptors the most though.

The Hornets shot 18-41 from three while the Raptors shot only 11-26. Usually, the Raptors are a top-10 team in terms of defending the perimeter, but they dropped the ball on Sunday night, allowing five Hornets players to shoot over 50-percent in the game. Including Dwayne Bacon, who went 5-8 from downtown against the Raptors, finishing with 20 points.

Of course, the final play of the game was the made three-pointer from Jeremy Lamb. But it is also an anomaly.

Norman Powell keeps putting in the work

Nick Nurse had Norman Powell sit for the whole of the first half, I have no idea why. Powell played 11 minutes in the second half and was one of the main instigators as the Raptors clawed their way back into the game, despite giving up 37 points in the third quarter.

Powell has been hot and cold recently, and his 10 points on 4-5 shooting will go a long way to boost his confidence. Powell attacked the rim and kept up his fairly decent three-point shooting on the season, making his two attempts in the game.

The Raptors are likely to move into an eight man playoff rotation nearer the end of the season and heading into the postseason, and that eighth spot looks to be really up for grabs at the moment.

Games like today put Powell in the drivers seat.

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