After a red hot start to the game where the Charlotte Hornets took a 19 point lead, they would blow it and fell to Toronto 111-100 in the preseason opener for both teams.
It was the debut for Gordon Hayward and first round draft pick LaMelo Ball for Charlotte and both had their moments in their first game with the team.
Hayward started at small forward tonight and scored 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting. He also had 4 rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
Ball would not find his way into the scoring column tonight but made a big difference on the boards and with assists. In 16 minutes of play, he had 10 rebounds and 4 assists.
“It definitely felt good being out there,” said Ball. “I haven’t played in a minute, so it was definitely a blessing to get back out there and play, and slowly building chemistry with the team. It was nice out there.”
“It was a good performance,” said head coach James Borrego. “First time out there, he looks like he belongs. I thought he was solid tonight and made some really good plays, good reads. He’s talking, and he’s communicating. He got dinged up there a little bit so we didn’t push anymore minutes on him, but I thought overall it was a solid performance to start.”
Ball had an 80 foot dime to Bismack Biyombo in the first quarter for an easy lay up. Then in the 3rd quarter, Ball dazzled with a sweet behind the back pass to Miles Bridges for another easy basket.
But the down fall tonight for Charlotte was turnovers as they had 22.
“Turnovers are always a concern,” said coach Borrego. “It’s something that we’re targeting this year; we’ve got to win the possession game. This was not the start we wanted as far as protecting the ball and valuing the basketball. I did understand and I knew there was going to be some of this sloppiness and messiness. It’s a number thing, sloppiness, poor spacing, not knowing each other, playing at a high pace and their physicality. These are the growing pains we are going to go through. We need to improve in that area and we’ll do that next game as well.”
“It’s been a while since we have all played,” said Hayward. “It’s the first preseason game. Guys are jittery, including myself. They pressured too. They were out in the passing lanes, which is something we have to attack better.”
A late run at the end of the first quarter for Toronto ate into the Charlotte lead and after the Raptors outscored the Hornets 35-19 in the 2nd quarter, that 19 point lead was gone as Toronto led at the break 58-51.
After 3 quarters, the Raptors had an 11 point lead and coach Borrego went deep into his bench to give the reserves some minutes. They couldn’t make a run as Toronto would finish off the victory.
The two teams will play again on Monday night at the Spectrum Center.