The Toronto Raptors were resilient tonight. However, their sloppiness ended up costing them against the Atlanta Hawks in a 118-113 overtime loss. They started the game without their key bench player Patrick Patterson, who’s out for at least another week. They then lost Jonas Valanciunas in the second half to a back injury. Yet even with their depleted front court the Raptors were able to force overtime on the strength of a Kyle Lowry game-tying drive to the basket. They just couldn’t overcome their sloppy play. They committed 15 turnovers, 10 in the second half. They also had 31 fouls. In contrast, the Hawks only committed seven turnovers and 24 fouls. This is a tough loss to take against a below .500 team, as the Raptors drop to 37-29. The New Orleans Pelicans wait for them tomorrow.
Don’t let the 113 points fool you; this was not a display of beautiful basketball. The Raptor’s 15 turnovers led to 22 Hawks points, including a brutal offensive foul by Amir Johnson that led to game-clinching free throws at the end of overtime. They shot 7-24 from the land beyond. Their offense became very perimeter-oriented as the game progressed, taking some tough shots off of very little movement. There were some bright spots: DeMar DeRozan found his way to the line. Kyle Lowry was a bull yet again in the second half. He scored 16 second-half points. Valanciunas continues to look more comfortable with his game, taking and making the mid-range jumper with great confidence. He also showcased some impressive moves in the paint. The Raptors just needed better movement on offense. Limiting their turnovers wouldn’t hurt either.
The Hawks only scored 17 points in the first quarter, but there were signs that their offense would turn around. The Hawks demonstrated solid offensive movement and found some decent looks. They just couldn’t hit their shots. That all changed after the first quarter. Whether it was DeMarre Carroll making a solid back-door cut or Kyle Korver running himself into open space, the Hawks were able to exploit the Raptors defense for profit. Terrence Ross got lost repeatedly while guarding Kyle Korver. Jeff Teague was able to consistently turn the corner on the Raptor’s bigs, especially those who came off the bench. Tyler Hansborough made some solid defensive help rotations in overtime, but he was mostly ineffective. Poor Chuck Hayes got burnt, committing four fouls in the fourth quarter. Patterson, get well soon.
The Raptors outrebounded the Hawks 50-40, but they surrendered a lot of costly tip outs down the stretch. DeRozan and Johnson each recorded double digit rebounds, while Lowry brought down seven. The Raptors did have trouble with Paul Millsap, who was a monster rebounding the ball. He brought down 13 in a triple-double effort. It was an overall solid win on the glass for the Raptors, but some of those tip outs were fatal in a five point loss.
Game Ball: Jeff Teague
Millsap had a triple-double, but it was Teague who changed the game. Teague asserted himself in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 34 points in the quarter that turned a seemingly easy Raptors victory into a struggle. He was a menace in transition, and took advantage of the slow Raptor big men. It was a big game for the burgeoning guard, as he helped carry his team to the win.