Hornets brace for red-hot Raptors
The Charlotte Hornets will seek to build on an impressive victory over the New York Knicks when they host the red-hot Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
Frank Kaminsky came off the bench to score a game-high 24 points Monday in a 109-91 triumph over the Knicks that snapped a three-game losing streak.
The win was just Charlotte’s second in seven home contests in a recent stretch of nine games. The Hornets also play three of their next four at home.
This might be the toughest test of the entire 13-game batch. The Raptors have won nine of 10, including three of four on a recent Western swing.
Helping the Raptors has been a nice break in the schedule. The Hornets (11-19) will be the eighth consecutive opponent with a losing record.
Toronto has taken advantage. It romped over Brooklyn and Sacramento by an average of 24 points on a just-completed two-game homestand.
All five starters scored in double figures and Norman Powell contributed 14 points off the bench Sunday. It’s the type of balanced attack Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he believes will benefit his club in the long run.
“Selling (Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan), it was a challenge because those two guys are All-Stars, they are Olympians,” Casey said of the move away from a guard-dominated attack. “But Kyle understands. DeMar understands. For us to keep guys from keying on them and taking them out once the playoffs (start) … they understood that. They are smart players.”
DeRozan, who took 20.9 shots a game last season and averaged 27.3 points, has dropped down to 17.4 and 23.9 this season.
Lowry is down to 12 shots and 16 points after taking an average of 15.3 shots to get 22.4 points last year.
The Hornets will be seeing a different type of team than the one that beat them 126-113 in Toronto on Nov. 29 behind 36 points from Lowry and 30 from DeRozan.
Interestingly, the Hornets got away from their two-man game of Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard in their win over the Knicks.
The two standouts took just 23 combined shots for 20 points in a balanced approach that saw Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (15 points) and Marvin Williams (12) join Kaminsky in double figures.
It’s an attack-from-all-angles approach interim coach Stephen Silas believes is going to be necessary in order for the Hornets to turn things around and make a playoff push.
“He was just playing the game the way he knows he can,” Silas said of Kaminsky, whose point total matched his season high. “Hopefully we’ll see that as we go forward with guys like Nic (Batum), guys like Frank and then the other guys, especially our bench guys, getting a little bit more consistency and confidence.”
The teams have alternated wins and losses in their last five meetings, with the Hornets prevailing 113-78 last January in the most recent head-to-head in Charlotte.