Charlotte Hornets

Toronto Raptors edge Charlotte Hornets in preseason opener, LaMelo Ball dazzles in debut

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(NBA Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors got their preseason off to a strong start, with a 111-100 win over the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center.

The Raptors rallied after falling behind 25-6 early in the contest, before reducing the deficit to 32-23 at the end of the period. They continued that momentum in the second, outscoring the Hornets 35-19, taking their first lead of the game thanks to a Pascal Siakam 3-pointer with 5:50 left in the half.

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The Raptors went into half-time with a 58-51 lead, resting the starters the rest of the way as the likes of Matt Thomas, Terence Davis, and rookie Malachi Flynn led the rest of the way.

Thomas scored a game-high 16 points, while Davis added 13 and Flynn nine, all coming from beyond the arc as he shot 3-of-6 from deep.

"It felt good, just getting out and playing," Flynn said. "I haven't played a game since March, so definitely some nerves, excited, but it was good to get back out there."

OG Anunoby finished with 11 points, while Siakam and Fred VanVleet chipped in nine points apiece.

Starting point guard Kyle Lowry did not make the trip to North Carolina, staying back at the team's temporary home in Tampa for "load management" per coach Nick Nurse.

In his absence, VanVleet stared alongside Norman Powell, Siakam, Anunoby, and free-agent signing Aron Baynes at center.

Baynes played just 13 minutes in his first game for the Raptors, finishing with five points, five rebounds, and a steal, shooting 2-of-4 from the field and 1-of-2 from beyond the arc.

LaMelo dazzles in debut

LaMelo Ball's highliy anticipated pre-season debut delivered no shortage of highlights as the No. 3 pick in the 2020 Draft, put his playmaking skills on display.

Ball struggled shooting the ball, going scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting, recording four turnovers in 16 minutes, to go with 10 rebounds and four assists and while the shots weren't falling, Ball's impact on the flow and tempo of the game was evident as he got up and down the floor with ease in transition, creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

HIs first assist in a Hornets uniform came with a full-court pass to Bismack Biyombo, following that up with two behind-the-back dimes.

This fast-break dime to Miles Bridges was as smooth as it gets.

Ball sat for the entire fourth quarter in what was his first competitive game in over a year, having last played with the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL.

The Hornets and Raptors will be back in action on Monday as the two teams meet again.

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