CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 12: LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets dribbles against Matt Thomas #21 of the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their game at Spectrum Center on December 12, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
The Toronto Raptors win 111-100 over the Charlotte Hornets in a thrilling preseason opener
Finally, the league is back! The Toronto Raptors started off their preseason with a doubleheader against the Charlotte Hornets, who just drafted touted prospect LaMelo Ball and look to have an intriguing young core of Ball, PJ Washinton, and Devonte Graham.
Tonight was a nice preview of what’s to come with newcomers to the team Aron Baynes and Malachi Flynn, as well as seeing Matt Thomas and Chris Boucher in increased roles with the team.
The first quarter saw the Raptors’ starting lineup (minus Kyle Lowry, and slotting Norman Powell in his place) get off to a slow start. Perhaps there were some nerves and stress involved, but the Hornets took a quick 25-6 lead with four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The team came alive afterward and bridged the gap in the second quarter, regaining a lead which Charlotte would never take back. The infamous bench mob led the comeback, with Matt Thomas, Terence Davis, and Malachi Flynn leading the bench mob offense in scoring with 16, 13, and 9 points respectively.
The Raptors woke up in the end and turned this game around from the slow start. Defensively, Toronto held Charlotte to only 68 points in the second, third, and fourth quarters. On offense, shooting woes improved by unleashing the Bench Mob, who ended up scoring 74 points in the match.
The Raptors’ starting 5 (as well as Norman Powell, who seems to be poised to play big minutes this season) need to play consistently throughout the season. Baynes was alright offensively but looked a little bit lost on defense, which is most likely due to the raptors not having the same defensive schemes as the Suns did in the previous season. Malachi Flynn showed he has the capability to one day lead an offense, and hopefully, tonight’s preseason game was any indication of what’s to come.
The Raptors look like they will be a very deep team this season. Even in the fourth quarter, when the Raptors fielded a lineup of mostly players on Exhibit 10 contracts, they were able to hold their own at some points. This preseason game was very encouraging, and the team showed glimpses which indicate that this will be a very interesting season.