Charlotte Hornets Recap: Hornets Take Down Raptors 103-95


There are some uncertainties in life, and basketball, but one thing is for sure. This Charlotte Hornets recap is going up on a Thursday. It’s been a tumultuous season in the Queen City, and the Hornets are still fighting back from a disappointing start. There are stories to tell, we’ve been through it all as fans and observers.

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Charlotte took their talents up north to face Drake’s beloved Toronto Raptors on Thursday night. Much like Ned Stark, the Raptors consider themselves the kings of the north.

A midseason trade of Rudy Gay, and the improved play from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, turned around their poor start in 2013-2014. Nothing was the same as they went on to finish as the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, and now they sit as one of the Eastern Conference elites. They’re still in the same league, but they certainly don’t ball the same.

Charlotte came into the night riding high on their 3 game winning streak. Could the Hornets ride that wave of momentum to outplay Toronto in a way that sends them to a fate similar to that of the aforementioned Lord Eddard Stark? To do that they would have to wade through an ocean of injuries.

Cody Zeller joined Al Jefferson, Lance Stephenson, and P.J. Hairston on the injury report, leaving the Hornets very shorthanded. Zeller and Hairston are really too young to be feeling this old, but when injuries strike it is best to try and get healthy rather than push through and risk hurting yourself even more.

Kemba Walker was coming off a sublime performance against the New Orleans Pelicans in which he scored 31 points and knocked down a game-winning shot. It would be hard to blame Kemba if after the game he burst into the locker room yelling “no help, that’s all me.” Charlotte’s franchise cornerstone is far too humble for statements like that. The organization will never have to fear that he will get too strung out on compliments or overdose on confidence.

Walker led the Hornets to a hot start in the first quarter. He’d score 8 points in the quarter, after which Charlotte would hold a 31-23 lead. The quarter even featured Bismack Biyombo attempting a jump-shot. The thought process that led to this shot could be described as somewhere between psychotic and iconic. It missed terribly, and you could almost hear Steve Clifford thinking “don’t do it, please don’t do it.”

Toronto stormed back in the second quarter to take a 52-50 lead into halftime. Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors in the first half, he scored 11 points and also handed out 6 assists. Despite the deficit, Charlotte played well. They shot 46 percent for the half, and held Toronto to 43 percent shooting. A 1 of 6 showing from three-point range and allowing the Raptors to knock down 6 triples would end up being the difference.

Charlotte would not go quietly into the night, after halftime they would turn their defense up a notch. They outscored Toronto 25-16 in the third quarter to take a 9 point lead. Now you’re talking my language.

The Hornets seem to have bucked their trend of blowing fourth quarter leads, for the time being. Charlotte would pull away late to defeat Toronto 103-95 . Toronto cut the Hornets lead to 4 points with only 42 seconds remaining, but a Kemba Walker three-pointer would serve as the dagger Charlotte needed to close out the win.

Walker was spectacular once again. He finished with 29 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals. With the way he is playing he might start garnering consideration for a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

Gerald Henderson also had a fantastic showing. The much maligned shooting guard would score 31 points to lead all scorers, while also grabbing 5 rebounds. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist contributed his 4th double-double in his last 5 games with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Gary Neal had a particularly poor game that included four straight missed shots in the fourth quarter, porous defense, and fouling Lou Williams on a three-pointer as time expired in the third quarter. However, all is likely forgiven thanks to the victory.

Marvin Williams provided some much needed outside shooting, knocking down 3 three-pointers. The injury to Zeller allowed Noah Vonleh to find his way off the bench, but he would only play 10 minutes scoring 2 points and snatching 3 rebounds. He showed flashes of the player Charlotte thinks he will turn into, and also showed his rawness and youth. Overall, it was nice to see him get some minutes.

Kyle Lowry led the way for Toronto, but he struggled shooting. Lowry shot 7 of 22 for his 24 points, and also added 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Lou Williams scored 15 points, but also struggled to shoot 0 of 5 from outside. Former North Carolina Tar Heel Tyler Hansbrough provided energy off the bench, scoring 9 points in his 19 minutes.

The Hornets continue this road trip Saturday night, when they’ll head to Madison Square Garden to take on the struggling New York Knicks. The Knicks are starting from the bottom, they have the worst record in the league, can Charlotte take advantage of a weak team to send this winning streak to 5 games?

If you’re road weary don’t worry. Just hold on, on January 14th the Hornets are going home to take on the San Antonio Spurs. Also, if you caught all the Drake references in this recap you have captured my respect and admiration.