|Hornets visit Toronto clinging to slim playoff hopes|
The Charlotte Hornets will visit the Toronto Raptors on Sunday for the second time this season and they hope for a better result than they had in their first one.
The Raptors defeated the Hornets 127-106 on Oct. 22, and since then their seasons have taken different courses.
The Raptors are candidates to make a long postseason run while the Hornets playoff chances are slim.
The Raptors visit the Hornets for the only time this season on April 5.
The Hornets will be playing their second of back-to-back games after coming back to defeat the Boston Celtics 124-117 Saturday at home.
Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 36 points -- 18 in the fourth quarter -- 11 rebounds and nine assists. It was the 23rd time Walker has scored 30 or more points in a game this season.
"We were down 18 in the fourth quarter, so I love the way they stuck with it," Hornets coach James Borrego said.
Toronto split back-to-back games with the Oklahoma City Thunder, winning on the road in overtime Wednesday and losing Friday at home.
Despite shooting 50 percent from the field, the Raptors took a 116-109 loss Friday, mainly because they committed 22 turnovers -- one short of the season high -- leading to 20 Thunder points.
"We shot 50 percent, 52 percent from 3, 85 percent from the line and then you think, 'How are you not winning that game?'" Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Then you look at the turnovers, right? You mentioned 22 of them, we had eight in the first quarter and still were in good shape. They got some really good production, a lot of points out of their secondary guys other than (Paul) George and (Russell) Westbrook."
"You have to give them credit," Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. "I think they lead the league in that category, but half or more was probably just us fumbling the ball, offensive fouls, a bunch of mental mistakes that you can't afford when you are trying to beat a team like that."
Toronto is 29-8 at home this season and 6-5 in March. The Raptors led at halftime Friday, ending their franchise record streak of 19 straight victories in which they were ahead as the half ended. Toronto is 24-2 when shooting 50 percent from the floor.
The Raptors played without guard Kyle Lowry (right ankle) for the second straight game Friday. He is listed as questionable for Sunday.
The Hornets still have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs, but in their 113-106 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, Borrego used a young lineup. He started second-year professional Dwayne Bacon ahead of Nic Batum and gave more playing time to such young players as Malik Monk, Devonte Graham and Willy Hernangomez.
Rookie Miles Bridges had 11 points and 12 rebounds Thursday and had a career-best 20 points Saturday.
"I'm taking it in one-game segments," Borrego said after the game Thursday. "Right now, I like that unit and I wanted to take a look at it."
There was more of the same Saturday, but this time Batum missed the game because of illness.
The Hornets were still without center Cody Zeller (swollen left knee) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (concussion) again Saturday.
Bacon scored 11 points in his ninth career start Saturday.
Thursday was the first time Hernangomez had played in four games. Monk, the Hornets' lottery pick two years ago, had played in only three of the previous nine games before Thursday. Saturday, he had 13 points.
--Field Level Media