The Toronto Raptors look for a better start out of the blocks on Tuesday when they host the Charlotte Hornets, winners of seven of their past nine games.
The Raptors cannot afford a repeat of their 114-105 loss to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. They fell behind by 34 points duringthe second quarter and trailed by 30 at halftime.
"It's too bad that we had one of those games to be honest, because I think we've played really hard and tough and really focused and all that stuff," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "It was just tough to do everything (Sunday), we weren't moving, we weren't thinking very well early and the only thing I can say is give them a hell of a lot of credit for not quitting."
The Raptors cut the lead to four points on Sunday with 1:24 remaining in the game before falling behind by 10.
"They kept fighting and we didn't really have much of a foundation to play from," Nurse said. "If we were going to try to get back into it, we were going to have to make it a little funky out there, which we did."
Pascal Siakam scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for Toronto.
Charlotte also lost at home Sunday, dropping a 113-91 decision to the Atlanta Hawks to end a three-game winning streak.
The Hornets, who were without Gordon Hayward (right foot discomfort), shot 11.1 percent (4 of 36) from 3-point range. They shot 39.1 percent (34 of 87) overall from the floor.
"We couldn't make shots," Hornets coach James Borrego. "We move on, but we need to make shots."
The Hornets missed their first 18 attempts from 3-point range. LaMelo Ball, who finished with 19 points, was 0 for 8 from 3-point range.
Kelly Oubre Jr. was 1 for 9 in 3-point attempts in his third game back after missing four games in COVID-19 protocol.
"Yeah, I'm just trying to come in and find my rhythm," Oubre said. "We shot, what, 4-for-30-something, 11 percent? I can focus on myself. I have to get in the gym tomorrow, continue to just lock in on my fundamentals, try to find my rhythm, just in the gym putting up reps like I was doing before I went out for 10 days with COVID."
Oubre was ejected with 4:18 to play in the game Sunday after being charged with a type-2 flagrant foul on an attempted block on a dunk by D'Andre Hunter.
"I made a basketball play," Oubre said. "I don't play the game to hurt anybody."
Oubre scored 18 points in a 111-102 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday in his return but had only eight in the victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder two days later. He is just 8 of 27 from the floor over the past two games, including 1 of 15 from 3-point range.
"It's hard being away from the game of basketball for five, six days, seven days and coming back," said Miles Bridges, who scored 19 points Sunday.
"It feels like an eternity when you come back. So, we know what Kelly is capable of and that COVID was definitely a setback for him. But he's going to bounce back from it. I believe in him."
--Field Level Media