The Toronto Raptors were presented with an opportunity for a bounce-back win, but that goal wasn’t achieved and was probably never meant to be in the first place.
Dating back to the 2007-08 season, the Raptors have posted a 3-10 record against the Hawks in Atlanta in a stretch of futility that now includes their 118-113 overtime loss on Tuesday night.
This would have been a perfect time for the Raptors to get back in the win column after being dismantled 121-113 by the Phoenix Suns two nights earlier. Instead, they again failed to contain perimeter shooting and dropped to 6-22 when allowing their opponent to score 100 or more points.
The Suns were able to connect on 11-of-23 3-point shots and the Hawks followed up with 11 of their own, albeit on a staggering 34 attempts.
Another trap the Raptors fell into against the Hawks was overtime. On the season, the Raptors are just 1-5 in games that extend beyond regulation.
There was promise in the early stages of the game as the Raptors jumped out to a 26-17 lead, but by halftime the score was tied 49-49.
Initially the Raptors played with a sense of urgency and found openings in the lane for short jumpers and drives to the basket. As the game progressed, however, the Raptors tended more towards outside shooting, especially in overtime, and essentially went away from what they had been doing right. On the night, the Raptors went 7-for-24 from downtown.
DeMar DeRozan (29 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) and Kyle Lowry (20 points, seven rebounds, nine assists) both flirted with triple-doubles but it still wasn’t enough. Unfortunately for the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas had to leave the game during the third quarter after hurting his back. The Big V had been putting together a nice game before his night was cut short as he scored 16 points and grabbed five boards in 20 minutes of action.
All things considered though, perhaps the Hawks deserve more credit.
They certainly didn’t look like the team that went 1-14 during games played from Feb. 4 to March 8. Now winners of five straight, Atlanta once again looks like a team that is serious about remaining in the playoff picture.
Jeff Teague was unstoppable for most of the night on his way to tying his career high with 34 points. Paul Millsap also put his stamp on the game by recording his first career triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The Raptors have stayed relatively healthy this season, but must now weather the storm in the absence of Patrick Patterson, who hasn’t played since March 7 because of an elbow injury and now possibly Valanciunas. However, no one in the NBA is going to feel sorry for them.
If the Raptors think they caught Atlanta at a bad time, they may be in for an even tougher test on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans and not just because it’s the second game of a back-to-back on the road.
Second-year forward Anthony Davis is going to be a handful for the Raptors. On Sunday against the Boston Celtics he filled the stat sheet with 40 points and 21 rebounds, not to mention three assists, a steal, and three blocks. On the season, Davis is averaging 21.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks with no signs of slowing down.
Toronto has defeated New Orleans in seven of the last eight meetings, so at least in that respect, the odds just might be in their favor.