VanVleet scores 23 points in Raptors’ 112-109 pre-season win at Charlotte

VanVleet scores 23 points in Raptors’ 112-109 pre-season win at Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fred VanVleet knocked down a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer with Gordon Hayward in his face, then jogged toward the locker-room with a grin.

VanVleet showed no hint of rust, scoring 23 points in the Toronto Raptors’ 112-109 pre-season victory at Charlotte on Monday.

But it’s a fine line, he said, between managing his energy now ahead of what he knows will be a gruelling season.

“I’m just trying to be the voice and the example that I need to be for the team but at the same time, not overdoing it … still make sure I’m sharp and I’m already but not over-exert myself too early. I know what’s to come, I know how the season is, I know Nick (coach Nurse) runs us really hard during the season so I’m sure the minutes will be up.”

Rookie Malachi Flynn had 17 points in another excellent performance off the bench, while Terence Davis added 14 points, and Pascal Siakam finished with 12.

Terry Rozier and Jalen McDaniels had 15 points apiece to lead Charlotte.

VanVleet has plenty to be happy about this season. And so do the Raptors.

Retaining the hard-working guard was the Raptors’ No. 1 priority during last month’s free agency, and they were successful, re-signing VanVleet to an historic US$85-million extension — the richest deal for an undrafted player.

The 26-year-old scored five three-pointers and shot 9-for-12 from the field on Monday. He also had four assists and three steals in 22 minutes of action, and Nurse credited VanVleet with keeping the Raptors in the game with his terrific second quarter.

“He was getting knocked around pretty hard going to rim there at the start of the game. He was getting a little frustrated and as usual he just keeps hanging in there and playing and got some nice open looks and knocked them down,” Nurse said.

“We needed somebody to kind of step up and do that at that particular moment, felt like we were in a lot more trouble than we were in, he was letting us hang around kind of single-handedly.”

The Raptors trailed by 14 points in the first half, but Flynn’s seven points early in the fourth helped Toronto put together a seven-point lead midway through that frame. Nurse emptied his bench over the final minutes as the Raptors held on for their second straight pre-season win over Charlotte.

Toronto’s all-star guard Kyle Lowry didn’t travel to Charlotte with the team. He was permitted to stay back at the team’s temporary home in Tampa, Fla., for “load management,” according to Nurse.

Charlotte led for most of the first half, up 30-22 to end the first quarter and 60-57 at the halftime break.

Alex Len’s layup late in the third quarter briefly had Toronto on top, but the Hornets took an 87-85 lead into the fourth quarter.

The absence of fans continues to paint a strange backdrop. Siakam missed the rim on a three-point attempt early Monday, and the game operations staff piped in jeers of “Air ball!”

When DeAndre Bembry got the ball in front of Charlotte’s bench, a Hornets player could clearly be heard taunting Bembry to “shoot it!” Bembry did, and scored.

“That’s just normal, just talking smack, hoping that you miss,” Bembry said. “But I just told (Charlotte’s bench) to calm down, relax, it’s going up, and it definitely happened how I wanted it to happen. I just told them relax, take this L, it’ll be alright.”

Because of Canada’s border restrictions around COVID-19, the Raptors are the league’s only team forced to play outside its market this season. They’ll host Miami on Friday in their first “home” game at Amalie Arena, and their third and final pre-season game. They open the regular season on Dec. 23.

Adding to the frantic pace of a shortened pre-season, the Raptors are having to find time to hunt for houses in Tampa, and their practice facility there is still in the final stages of construction.

Nurse said the biggest interruption, though, is the two COVID-19 tests every player must undergo each day. Players aren’t released to go about their days until they’ve passed, pushing back the schedule.

“But it’s not a big deal and I think everybody’s handled it in stride OK,” Nurse said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press


Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Most Read