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Anunoby lead Raptors to rout of Charlotte

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TORONTO—OG Anunoby was having an excellent night when Nicolas Batum swung a hard elbow that caught the Raptors forward square in the face.

Anunoby went down clutching his right eye. Again.

The Raptors forward scored 16 of his 24 points in Toronto's big third quarter yesterday, and the Raptors went on to rout the Charlotte Hornets 132-96.

But just three games since suffering an eye contusion after being swatted by Los Angeles Clippers star and former teammate Kawhi Leonard, Anunoby was forced out of the game with 53 seconds left in the third quarter, with both plays apparently happening away from the eyes of the officials.

“I wish they'd catch the guy who does it once in a while," said Raptors coach Nick Nurse. "That's two games he's been hit in the head and nobody sees anything.”

Seven Raptors (9-4) scored in double digits while also producing a franchise-high 40 assists. Pascal Siakam had 20 points, while Norm Powell had 17, Terence Davis chipped in with 16, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 15, and Fred VanVleet and Chris Boucher finished with 11 apiece.

Marvin Williams led Charlotte (6-8) with 14 points.

Anunoby, whose right eye was red in the post-game locker-room, said he'd try wearing a protective mask or goggles at today's practice. He wore goggles for a few minutes in a game on Oct. 22 of last season after bruising an orbital bone five days earlier against Cleveland.

“We were just joking about that at the end of the bench towards the end of the game,” Hollis-Jefferson.

“'Hey, dude you are going to have to wear the Bane mask [from "The Dark Knight Rises” Batman movie] pretty soon just to keep people out your eyes.' He laughed.

“It's definitely scary to see but it's a part of the game.”

The Hornets, who were coming off two straight wins, hung around throughout the first half last night but the Raptors finally shook them in the third quarter, outscoring Charlotte 32-18 in the frame. Anunoby connected on four of his five three-point attempts in the frame.

Leading 92-74 to start the fourth, Nurse emptied his bench, and when Davis drilled back-to-back three-pointers, the Raptors led 113-80. Davis contributed 16 straight points for Toronto in a span of three minutes and 41 seconds.

Rookie Dewan Hernandez played his first regular-season minutes for the Raptors. He finished with two points and four rebounds in six minutes.

Toronto, which has struggled on the glass, outrebounded Charlotte 53-37.

The Raptors were back home after winning three of five games on the road, despite missing key players to injury.

Nurse said pre-game there was no update on Kyle Lowry, who remains sidelined with a broken left thumb. Serge Ibaka has missed five games with an ankle injury.

Lacking in numbers, the trip was a chance for some of the bench players to shine.

Siakam led the way with eight points, including a pair of threes, in a first quarter that saw Toronto lead by eight before taking a 26-25 advantage into the second.

Hollis-Jefferson provided a spark off the bench with 13 points in the second quarter. A Williams three-pointer gave Charlotte a brief three-point lead, but an 18-6 run put the Raptors up by nine and they took a 60-56 lead into halftime.

Yesterday marked the beginning of a lengthy home stretch for Toronto—seven of nine games at Scotiabank Arena. The Raptors host the Orlando Magic tomorrow.

In other NBA action last night, New York downed Cleveland 123-105; Indiana thumped Brooklyn 115-86; Milwaukee dispatched Chicago 115-101; Houston smoked Portland 132-108; Dallas topped San Antonio 117-110; Boston defeated Phoenix 99-85; Minnesota dumped Utah 112-102; and the L.A. Clippers edged Oklahoma City 90-88.

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