Rookie LaMelo Ball Leads Hornets Passed Undermanned Raptors
For some reason, the Toronto Raptors always seem to struggle against the Charlotte Hornets.
Losers of three straight all while still dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, the Hornets were probably one of the last teams the Raptors were looking to face on Saturday night as they hoped to get back into the win column.
As the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture continues to get tighter, the undermanned Raptors came out flat as 19-year old rookie LaMelo Ball took the game over from the opening tip. Ball led the way for the Hornets with 23 points, nine boards and six assists as his team scored 44 points in the opening frame and did not look back from there.
“I thought, obviously, he’s really, really growing and the three ball from deep is a huge weapon for him,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “But I think, the biggest thing is he made a couple of plays, I’m not saying we were threatening to cut the game down, but in the 15-to-17-point range that was not looking good for them and all of a sudden, he zings a no-look pass for a layup or something. You think you’ve just about got them all bottled up and you’re heading the other way and he would make a really spectacular pass for an assisted bucket. So he’s got a lot of game and he’s got size and obviously, he looked really good out there tonight.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors with 19 points and eight assists. Chris Boucher added 16 points off the bench while Paul Watson chipped in with 12 more for a team looking for answers as they continued their stretch of games without the services of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet.
“These guys that haven’t played all that much or whatever, we’re just trying to look for what can they give you, something consistent,” commented Nurse on his team’s role players. “I’m not talking about 20 points but can they kind of replicate some good performances a little more consistently … so we were striving for consistency and trying to see which guys can do that.”
The Raptors will need to get more from their role players as it still remains unclear as to when the team’s stars will return. The Raptors will look to snap their four-game losing streak tonight as they face off with the Chicago Bulls.