Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Charlotte Hornets
Records: Raptors (3-8), Hornets (6-7)
Where to Watch
Date: Saturday, Jan. 16
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TSN (Canada), NBA TV (USA)
Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
Three Things to Watch
1. The play of Chris Boucher
In what has been a disappointing start to the season for the Raptors, Boucher has been a bright spot.
Through 11 games, Boucher is averaging 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 22.8 minutes, all of which are career-highs. He's taken his game to another level lately, scoring double figures in four straight games, which is the longest streak of his career.
Boucher saved the day in Toronto's win over Charlotte on Thursday with 25 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. He was at his best when it mattered most, coming up with seven points and eight rebounds in the fourth quarter alone to hold off a late comeback attempt by the Hornets.
''I'm just trying to figure out a way to get us going,'' said Boucher. ''Playing defence and bringing energy is what you're there for. It's pretty much what I do.''
25 Pts | 10 Reb | 2 Blk | @chrisboucher- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 15, 2021
The man is a human highlight machine pic.twitter.com/mOKeXD9u3U
If Boucher can keep his recent play up, he's going to work his way into the Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year discussion this season.
2. The LaMelo Ball show
Speaking of end-of-season awards, Ball has been as good as advertised so far for the Hornets.
Now 13 games into his career, Ball is averaging 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists, ranking him third in scoring, first in rebounding and first in assists among rookies. He has already made history, becoming the youngest player to ever record a triple-double in an NBA game in Charlotte's win over the Atlanta Hawks last week.
LaMelo (22 PTS, 12 REB & 11 AST) is now the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double 💥 pic.twitter.com/cAuJ1J5yNz- NBA TV (@NBATV) January 10, 2021
NBA.com's Kyle Irving had Ball ranked second in last week's Rookie Ladder. A lot could change between now and when the next Rookie Ladder comes out on Friday, but Ball has played well enough lately to take over the No. 1 spot.
3. Holding onto the lead
The Raptors led by 13 points going into the fourth quarter of Thursday's matchup with the Hornets and the game still came down to the final possession.
The Hornets didn't exactly light it up in the fourth quarter - they scored 22 points on 9-for-26 shooting from the field - but the Raptors went ice-cold. Outside of Boucher, who was responsible for seven of the team's 12 points in the frame, the Raptors shot 2-for-18 from the field and 1-for-11 from 3-point range.
The Raptors also committed six of their 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
The Raptors have had trouble holding onto leads this season and almost let another one slip away on Thursday. If they are going to turn it around, they can't afford to continue letting teams back into games.
Alex Len (personal reasons) and Patrick McCaw (left knee) are out for the Raptors.
For the Hornets, Gordon Hayward (left hip) is questionable and Cody Zeller (left hand) is out.
- The Raptors rank 15th in offensive efficiency (110.1) and 21st in defensive efficiency (111.0).
- The Hornets rank 20th in offensive efficiency (107.1) and ninth in defensive efficiency (107.5).
- P.J. Washington has been assisted on 17 baskets by LaMelo Ball, which is more than anyone else on the roster.
- The Hornets are averaging 9.4 steals per game, the fourth-most in the league. The Raptors aren't far behind with 8.8 steals per game, ranking them 7th.
- The only team averaging more transition possessions per game than the Raptors (23.6) and Hornets (21.8) is the Milwaukee Bucks (25.3).
- Hornets guard Devonte' Graham finished fourth in Most Improved Player voting last season.
- Hornets centre Bismack Biyombo has 22 dunks on the season. According to Stathead, only Clint Capela (24) and Richaun Holmes (23) have more dunks.
Last Time They Played
Date: Jan. 14, 2021
Score: Raptors 111, Hornets 108
Raptors: Chris Boucher - 25 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steals
Hornets: Terry Rozier - 22 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
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