Hawks Fall to the Raptors in Toronto
The Hawks (31-37) had an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but could never get their offense going in the final period in a 96-86 loss to the Raptors (39-30). Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 25 points — 13 coming in the fourth quarter on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting — and sealed the Raptors win with a steal and score in the final minute.
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The Raptors dominated the final quarter, shooting 60% from the field (66.7% from three) for 36 points. DeMar DeRozan was quiet for most of the first three quarters, but exploded in that final quarter with 10 points to give him 21 for the game. He and Lowry combined to outscore the Hawks by 8 in the final quarter (23-15).
The Hawks got off to a fast start and led 25-16 after the first quarter behind 12 points and four steals by DeMarre Carroll in the opening period — Carroll finished the game with 17 points, five steals and four assists. Atlanta kept up their defensive pressure and held the Raptors in check for the first three quarters, holding them to just 60 points, but struggles on both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter negated their early dominance.
Paul Millsap also had 17 points with eight rebounds and three steals. Millsap had very good second and third quarters, but — like the rest of the team — struggled in the fourth quarter going just 1-of-4 from the field with three points. The Hawks offense as a whole shot just 27.3% from the field and were only 1-of-10 from three-point range.
Without Kyle Korver for the second-straight game, the Hawks three-point shooting has taken a significant hit. Losing his shooting has had a big impact, but just as important is the effect he has on defenses that spaces the floor and opens up shot opportunities for other players. Without Korver, the Hawks offense doesn’t have as much spacing and takes off some of the constant pressure that he applies with his off-ball movements.
Jeff Teague was the only other Hawk to reach double-figures with 16 points and five assists. With the offense struggling in the fourth quarter, Teague looked to initiate some offense on his own, but the Raptors defense was committed to collapsing into the paint forcing him into a number of contested shots even when he got in the paint.
The Hawks lead over the Knicks for eighth in the East is now just 2.5 games with 14 to play (12 to play for New York) and they fell 1.5 games behind the Bobcats for seventh. Atlanta will have a tough test in their next game as they will take on the Suns back in Atlanta on Monday night on the second game of this back-to-back.
Tweet of the Night
Keep Fighting… #ATLHawks
— Bob Muscala (@MuskieBobber) March 23, 2014
Photo by: Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images