The Toronto Raptors ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday and will try to build on that win Tuesday night against the visiting Charlotte Hornets.
The 117-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers gave the Raptors a 1-2 record halfway through a six-game homestand that they hope will turn their season around.
“You take it, man,” said Fred VanVleet, who had 14 points and seven assists against Portland. “Turn one into two, turn two into three. I think just putting one foot in front of the other right now.
“Just try to build on this. It was a good night for us. We had a good practice (Saturday). We got better (Sunday) and have to get better tomorrow. We have to come out here later in the week for a hot Charlotte team.”
Tuesday’s contest will be the first of a two-game set at home against the Hornets; Game 2 will be Thursday.
Charlotte is coming off a 116-111 loss Sunday to the Indiana Pacers at Indianapolis. The Hornets opened their four-game trip Friday with a 138-109 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, who defeated the Raptors in overtime on Wednesday.
The Hornets led by nine points early in the fourth quarter against Indiana.
“I think we started the game really well,” said Charlotte’s Mason Plumlee, who finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. “I felt like there was some carry-over from Milwaukee. But they got their offense going in the second and fourth. Even with that being said, we had a chance … at the end (to) tie it up, but they made one more play than us.
“It didn’t result in a win, but I know we are playing better. We are giving ourselves a chance, and the momentum is still going. We just need to make sure it results in wins along the way.”
Toronto and Charlotte both have struggled. The Raptors’ victory was only their fourth in the past 15 games, while the Hornets have won three of their past 10.
The teams will meet Tuesday for the first time this season. The Raptors won two of three from the Hornets last season.
Against Portland on Sunday, the Raptors forced 24 turnovers, leading to 29 points. Toronto’s reserves, who have had some recent problems, outscored Portland’s 21-3.
“They responded well,” VanVleet said. “Coach gave them a chance, and they responded the way you would like to see, so they have to continue to build on that. We need those guys.”
Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 27 points, and Scottie Barnes added 22 points and nine rebounds. Barnes had a heated discussion with reserve teammate Thaddeus Young — who finished with four points and six rebounds — during the halftime warmup.
“We just had a disagreement,” Young said. “He actually told me he loved me. I told him I love him back. You know, no different than brothers going back and forth, especially when we’re both passionate about the game.”
The Hornets, meanwhile, were outscored 43-32 in the fourth quarter against the Pacers on Sunday.
“We couldn’t stop them,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “Our offense was more than enough to win. You score 32 points on the road (in the final period), you’ve got to win that game. They hurt us with pick-and-rolls.
“We put ourselves in a good place for three quarters, and we really played well. And then our defense in the fourth quarter wasn’t good enough.”
P.J. Washington led Charlotte with 22 points, and Terry Rozier had 19.
–Field Level Media