Toronto Raptors

Undermanned Toronto Raptors can't keep up with record-setting Charlotte Hornets, drop fourth straight

The shorthanded Toronto Raptors' struggles continue as they suffered a wire-to-wire loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

Toronto falls to 17-21 on the season after dropping four in a row while Charlotte has won three straight and four of its last five to move to 19-18 on the season.

Here are some takeaways from the buzzer…

1. Five remain out

Toronto was again undermanned as it entered Saturday night without OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, Patrick McCaw, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet due to the league's health and safety protocols.

Ahead of this one, head coach Nick Nurse provided an update on their potential availability for the team's upcoming games: "I just think that we're gonna do this trip and then when we get back in on Monday, with the two days between games, take a survey of the land, see who's ready to re-join us and go from there."

2. Charlotte hits triple after triple…

The first quarter was a doozy.

Setting the theme for the night, the Hornets were the first to get on the board courtesy of a 3 from Terry Rozier. It quickly went from 3-0 in the opening moments to 19-2 just five minutes into the game. A triple from Gordon Hayward at the 5:30 mark gave Charlotte a 28-6 lead in the first.

At the end of one, the Hornets led 44-24 after knocking down 11 of their first 16 3-point attempts … a franchise record for Charlotte and a franchise opponent record for Toronto.

3. After triple

There was more where that came from.

Charlotte "cooled off" in the second quarter but sank five more 3s, bringing their total for the half to 16.

Again, a new franchise record for the Hornets and a franchise opponent record for the Raptors. The 16 3s fell just one shy of an NBA record set by the Golden State Warriors.

4. Kyle Lowry. Heart and soul.

With Toronto down 15 at the halftime break, the Sportsnet crew caught up with assistant coach Sergio Scariolo, who remarked that he wanted to see more of the Raptors match the fire displayed by Lowry, who entered the half with a team-high 16 points to go along with seven assists.

Regardless of circumstance, the six-time All-Star did what he does best, drawing charges despite being down big in the second half and keeping everyone involved with his playmaking.

In 31 minutes, Lowry exited the night with 19 points (on 7-for-16 shooting), eight assists and six rebounds, setting the tone despite the team's limitations.

5. The LaMelo show

It feels like the gap between first and second in the Rookie of the Year race gets wider and wider every time LaMelo Ball steps on the floor.

The talent is seriously undeniable.

Ball, 19, looked like the most talented player on the floor throughout the night as he finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists while shooting 7-for-11 from the field, including 6-for-9 from 3-point range.

His spinning triple was by far the highlight of the night.

6. Powell's rough night

It's no secret that Norman Powell has been on a tear, stepping up in a major way in the absence of Anunoby, Siakam and VanVleet.

Tonight, it was a little bit tougher for him to get going.

Powell's streak of four consecutive games with 25-plus points came to an end Saturday night as he finished with just 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting from the field and 3-for-8 from beyond the arc. Based on what we've seen from Powell this season, he'll look to make this one a distant memory the next time he steps on the floor.

7. Canadian history

There was CanCon on both sides.

Late in the fourth, Hornets two-way guard Nate Darling (Halifax, NS), checked in for his first NBA minutes. In doing so, Darling became the first native of Nova Scotia to log an NBA minute.

The sharpshooting rookie averaged 8.9 points per game in 13 G League games with the Greensboro Swarm.

8. What's next?

The Raptors are off to the Windy City for the second end of a back-to-back, as they will take on the Chicago Bulls for the first time this season on Sunday, March 14 at 9:00 p.m. ET on TSN.

We'll catch you then.

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