Losing Ugly


Powell Returns, Toronto Raptors Struggle in loss to Charlotte Hornets

Norman Powell was back, but the Toronto Raptors gave both Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka cautionary days off on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets.

On a night in which they lost 99-96 to a team vying for a high lottery pick, the lack of bodies was not the issue. The Raptors shot the ball at a putrid 34.7-percent for the game and 23.3-percent from long range. Outside of a late hot stretch from Kyle Lowry, this turned into one of those games where the ball just struggled to find the bottom of the well.

“It was difficult,” head coach Nick Nurse commented on the injuries and its effect on continuity. “The big thing is when you’re shifting [players] around a lot is it’s going to look disjointed at times and it did. I thought we found some chemistry.”

Pascal Siakam led the way for the Raptors, cashing in 24 points, but efficiency was something that hurt just about everyone on the court on Friday night.

“Obviously, we didn’t make shots,” Siakam said. “Missing everything. Layups, free throws . . . the list goes on. Threes. At the same time, we still put ourselves with a chance to be in the game and have an opportunity to win.”

With a game against the Houston Rockets, the Boston Celtics have the chance to match the Raptors for second place in the Eastern Conference with a win tonight. With the Milwaukee Bucks all but locking up the top seed, the big race in the East will now shift for second as the Raptors and Celtics will jaw for the opportunity of hosting Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs on their home court.

With 23 games remaining on the season, the Celtics have the ninth easiest schedule to close out the year, while the Raptors have the 13th easiest. The race will be a tight one.


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