Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Charlotte Hornets
Preseason records: Raptors (1-0), Hornets (0-1)
Where to Watch
Date: Monday, Dec. 14
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: SN (Canada), Fox Sports Southeast (USA)
Location: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
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If you missed Game 1 of the Raptors-Hornets preseason double-header, it was highly entertaining.
Toronto came out playing like they knew nothing was at stake, trailing by as much as 19 points early. It wasn't until the bench brought some energy into the game that the Raptors were able to turn things around before ultimately coming away with a 111-100 victory.
Headlining the talking points for the game was Charlotte rookie LaMelo Ball's debut, which didn't disappoint despite finishing the game with zero points while shooting 0-for-5 from the field. The No. 3 overall pick was aggressive on the glass grabbing 10 rebounds, pushing the pace with every opportunity while showcasing every bit of his high-level playmaking ability that was so often talked about leading up to the 2020 NBA Draft.
Take a look at some of these ridiculous showtime-type passes.
LaMelo dropping DIMES. 👀✨📸- NBA (@NBA) December 13, 2020
10 boards and some SPECIAL passing on display from LaMelo Ball (@MELOD1P) in his #NBAPreseason debut! pic.twitter.com/zbYSXGHNGG
In Game 2, with his highly anticipated debut and the jitters that come with it behind him, look for Ball to look for his own shot more often.
On the Raptors side of things, reserve guard Matt Thomas was the stand-out player, leading the team with 16 points and five assists.
Matt Thomas finished with 16 PTS, 4 3PT and 5 AST in the @Raptors preseason win over Charlotte! pic.twitter.com/jDST8tQB6c- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) December 13, 2020
While we're used to seeing Thomas come in and light it up from 3 - he went 4-for-7 from long range in the contest - he was doing more than just shooting, orchestrating the second unit offence while bringing some intensity to the defensive side of the ball. His efforts caught head coach Nick Nurse's attention, who after the game admitted he wants Thomas to become a "big factor" in the team's rotation this season.
Lastly, rookie Malachi Flynn's debut may have been overshadowed by the superstardom of Ball, but Toronto's first-round pick was as solid as can be in his first NBA action. In 21 minutes of playing time, Flynn added nine points, four assists and a steal while providing a team-best plus-minus of plus-35. He displayed every bit of what was described about his game leading up to the draft - tough, hard-nosed defence, the ability to run an offence and a flash of 3-point shooting, going 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Without Kyle Lowry and established starters like Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby expected to play limited minutes, we should see plenty more of the Raptors players battling for full-time roles in the regular rotation again on Monday.
The Raptors announced on Saturday that Kyle Lowry has been granted permission to remain in Tampa, Florida while the team travels to Charlotte. He missed Saturday's game and will Monday's game, too.
- The No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, LaMelo Ball spent the 2019-20 season playing for the NBL's Illawarra Hawks. He averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals on 37.5 percent shooting from the field over 12 games.
- Devonte' Graham is coming off of a breakout season with the Hornets, in which he averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game. He received the fourth-most votes for Most Improved Player.
- Aron Baynes made a total of 59 3-pointers as a member of the Phoenix Suns in the 2019-20 season. That's more than he made in the first seven seasons of his career combined (25).
- Toronto's biggest move in free agency was re-signing Fred VanVleet to a four-year, $85.0 million contract. VanVleet is coming off of a breakout season himself, posting averages of 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game.
- The Raptors have four players in ESPN's best players for the 2020-21 season: OG Anunoby (68), VanVleet (40), Kyle Lowry (30) and Pascal Siakam (24).
- The only player on the Hornets who cracked ESPN's top 100 for the upcoming season was Gordon Hayward (45).
Last Time They Played
Date: Dec. 14, 2020
Score: Raptors 111, Hornets 100
Raptors: Matt Thomas - 16 points, 5 assists, 2 steals
Hornets: Miles Bridges - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
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