April 23rd, 2024

RJ Barrett helps hurting Raptors past Hornets 111-106; Poeltl leaves game early

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on March 3, 2024.

Toronto Raptors guard RJ Barrett (9) makes a pass as Charlotte Hornets forward Grant Williams (2) defends during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, March 3, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., had 23 points and nine rebounds as the hurting Toronto Raptors held off the Charlotte Hornets 111-106 on Sunday.

Immanuel Quickley had a double-double with 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds as Toronto (23-38) played without all-star Scottie Barnes, who broke his hand in Friday’s 120-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Ochai Agbaji started in Barnes’s place and scored 13 points with a career-high nine rebounds. Gary Trent Jr. added 17 points.

The undermanned Raptors were dealt another blow when starting centre Jakob Poeltl left the game at the end of the first half with a dislocated left pinky finger.

Miles Bridges came alive in the third quarter to finish with 20 points as Charlotte (15-46) lost its fourth straight. Brandon Miller and Grant Williams each had a double-double, with Miller scoring 26 and pulling down 10 boards and Williams having 18 points with 13 rebounds.

Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said Barnes was not at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday. Guard Bruce Brown was also out for Toronto, missing the game because of right-knee inflammation.

“We’re evaluating options for (Barnes), what’s going to be the next step,” said Rajakovic before the game, acknowledging that surgery was a possibility. “We’ll know more in the next day or two what the next step is going to be.

“It’s going to be an opportunity for him to reflect on the season and to continue supporting teammates, staying in touch with everybody.”

Bryce McGowens and Williams each made a free throw in the final minute of the first quarter as Charlotte built an early 29-27 lead.

Quickley banked in a nine-foot jump shot with 5:18 left in the second to give Toronto a one-point lead. It capped a 9-0 run for the hosts.

The two teams stayed neck and neck for the rest of the quarter until Barrett hit a floater with 55 seconds left in the half and then Quickley finished off a driving layup with 23 seconds on the clock as the Raptors carried a 52-48 lead into intermission.

Poeltl left the court with 42 seconds left in the second quarter, with Kelly Olynyk of Kamloops, B.C., and Jontay Porter stepping up in his absence.

Although Poeltl’s departure allowed Bridges to drive to the basket – he scored 16 of his points in the third quarter alone – the Raptors were not slowed down. Trent had 11 points and Barrett added seven points in the quarter as Toronto built an 82-75 lead.

Williams scored eight consecutive points in the final four minutes of the game to pull the Hornets to within two points. Davis Bertans then drilled a three-pointer to make it 103-102 for Charlotte.

Quickley sank two free throws with 57 seconds left to play to re-take the lead.

With the 19,512 fans at Scotiabank Arena chanting “DE-FENCE!” Barrett got a defensive rebound and Quickley was fouled after dribbling the ball over half-court. Quickley made both of the ensuing free throws to make it 106-103 for Toronto with 24.6 seconds on the clock.

On the ensuing Charlotte possession, Bertans clanked a three-point attempt off the rim and Quickley got the rebound, immediately drawing a foul. Again, he made both free throws.

Williams was fouled as the Hornets were trying to inbound and made his one free throw. Miller drove to the net for an uncontested layup when Charlotte finally got to inbound and Trent was fouled on Toronto’s inbound. He made one of his two free throws and then stole the ball for an easy layup for the game’s final score.

UP NEXT – The Raptors host the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Charlotte welcomes the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2024.

Follow @jchidleyhill on X.

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