The Toronto Raptors will try to follow up another dominant homestand when they begin a two-game road trip at the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. Winners of nine of their last 10 overall, the Raptors swept a two-game stay in Canada with victories over Brooklyn and Sacramento by an average of 24 points.
Toronto improved to 11-1 at home and held an opponent under 100 points four times in the last five games, although the defense took some time to take over in the 108-93 triumph over the Kings, who scored 63 points before halftime and 30 in the second half. “Any team in this league, you let them shoot 61 percent, it’s way too high,” coach Dwane Casey told reporters of Sacramento’s first-half shooting. “We held them to 31 percent in the second half, which is admirable, but we can’t play with fire.” The Hornets also had a fine defensive effort in a 109-91 win over the New York Knicks on Monday, snapping a three-game slide. Frank Kaminsky scored 24 points to tie a season high and both Dwight Howard and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had double-doubles.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet ONE (Toronto), FSN Southeast (Charlotte)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (20-8): DeMar DeRozan led the way against Sacramento with 21 points, although he shot just 6-for-17 and also recognized the team’s need for a reset at halftime. “We picked it up aggressively — very aggressively,” DeRozan told reporters of the second half. “Especially the bench. I think I was in there with a couple of guys off the bench and they came in with high energy, got their hands on the basketball, got out in transition.” Among the reserves providing a boost was forward Norman Powell, who made all five of his shots and is 10-for-13 from the floor over the last two games after going 2-for-15 over his previous three.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (11-19): Kaminsky needed just 27 minutes for his team-leading total against the Knicks and he was 10-for-13 from the floor to help end a shooting slump. “There’s 82 games and you can control your effort for every single game,” Kaminsky told reporters. “When I come out and just play, I think I’m a completely different player.” While Kaminsky heated up, star guard Kemba Walker continued a slump of his own and is shooting 11-for-39 - including misses on all 13 of his 3-point tries - over the last two games.
1. DeRozan and backcourt mate Kyle Lowry combined for 66 points in Toronto’s 126-113 win over Charlotte at home last month.
2. Howard shoots 53.8 percent for the season but is 3-for-10 in each of his last two games.
3. Raptors F Serge Ibaka (knee) missed Sunday’s win and is day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Raptors 113, Hornets 106