The Toronto Raptors lost 99-96 against the Charlotte Hornets last night. This is their second straight loss and sees the Raptors slide to 2-2 post All-star break. The Raptors record sits at 42-17 as the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference while Boston sits a game behind.

The season series now sits at 2-1 in Toronto’s favour. Despite the loss last night, Toronto averages 113.3 points per game and a point differential of 11.6 against Charlotte.

Dull Shooting

Toronto is the fourth best three point shooting team in the league, but it definitely didn’t look like it last night. The Raptors shot a paltry 23.3% (10/43) in the contest a far cry from their average of 37.3%. Norman Powell shot a team high 36.4% in the contest.

The No Big Impact

The lack of a starting centre truly hurt the team. With Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol out, the Raptors went small while the Hornets took advantage. The Hornets beat the Raptors in total rebounds 58-45, in points in the paint 42-38, and total blocks 9-3. Their lack of an offensive post threat allowed Bismack Biyombo to heavily impact the game. His 13 points and 11 rebounds are a far cry from the earlier games in the season series. He was the best big on the floor in last night’s game.

The Raptors’ 2nd Half Charge

The Raptors trailed by 9 entering the second half and went on to make a push in the latter 24 minutes of the contest. The charge was lead by Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and the returning Norman Powell. The trio combined for 42 of the team’s total 55 2nd half points. Lowry in particular was clutch down the stretch, pouring in Toronto’s last 10 points in an effort to take the game.

The catalyst for the charge was their defensive efforts. Toronto snatched 6 steals in the second half leading to 16 points off of turnovers. The Raptors lead the league in fast break points at 19.3 per game while sitting is second in points off turnovers with 20 per game.

Up Next for the Raptors

Toronto will travel westward for a 5 game west coast road trip. This trip will start with a trip to Denver to take on the Nuggets. The Nuggets sit as the third seed in the west, lead by Nikola Jokic. Toronto will need a starting centre to contain the talented big as well as slow down the pace against the infamous Colorado altitude.