Raptors’ embarrassing loss to Hornets more than an ASG hangover

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Let’s take a look at the positives after the Toronto Raptors fell in defeat against LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets. Standout rookie Scottie Barnes had a solid game, as his ability to get to the rim was epitomized by him scoring 12 straight Raptors points. Now let’s examine what went wrong. Literally everything else.

The Hornets were able to pull off a dominant 125-93 victory that wasn’t competitive from the start. Toronto went into a 14-2 hole to start the game, and every maneuver they tried to escape this unfortunate situation only helped dig themselves deeper.

While Toronto is still in the play-in tournament and they have a chance to rectify this disaster against Atlanta tomorrow night, choosing to write this loss off as the product of coming back from the long All-Star break rings hollow. After all, Charlotte played arguably their best game of the season.

The easy line to lean on after a defeat like this is to simply burn the film of this game and move on to the next one. However, Toronto needs to examine this game with a fine-toothed comb. Between this matchup and duds against tanking teams like the Pistons and Thunder, Toronto needs to figure out why they continue to start games so poorly.

93. 81. 125. 170. Final

The Toronto Raptors were embarrassed by the Charlotte Hornets.

Where to even start? Fred VanVleet was playing hurt, as he was an astonishing -40 in just 29 minutes. Both he and Pascal Siakam failed to crack double digits in scoring while shooting a combined 6-25 from the field. Keep in mind the fact that Charlotte is one of the league’s worst defensive teams and had won just one of their last 10 games.

The bench combined for 15 points before the fourth quarter in which they waved the white flag. Khem Birch was getting annihilated on both ends in the paint. Prior to the fourth, players not named VanVleet or Gary Trent Jr. took just three 3-point attempts, and none of them connected.

Some more optimistic fans might try to pin this defeat on playing without OG Anunoby and with a hobbled VanVleet after the All-Star break. Losing in a close game would help that theory hold water, but almost suffering one of the worst losses in franchise history is another thing.

The Raptors will play five games in seven nights, including three straight against play-in contenders like the Nets and Hawks. If they lose some ground as a result of poor performances in this stretch, that could have some dire consequences for this team.

This loss should serve as a wake-up call to the Raptors organization. Making the play-in would be a nice accomplishment for this season, but if they even approximate giving the same level of effort they showed tonight in impactful late-season games, they will be swiftly kicked out of the play-in.

Next. 3 things Raptors must do to catch Celtics. dark