The formula for success against the Raptors this season has been to get them into a shootout and just let Toronto go off offensively. They won’t outscore you and they’ll forget to play defense. After losing to the Hawks in Atlanta on Tuesday 118-113, the Raptors are 0-12 when their opponent scores at least 110 points.
The Raptors started out with a winning formula. The Hawks without Al Horford are vulnerable inside and Toronto went to Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson early and often to run up a 26-17 first quarter lead and hold the Hawks to just 25 percent shooting from the field.
The only problem was both the Raptors big men picked up 2 early personal fouls that severely limited their first half minutes and when Head Coach Dwane Casey went to his bench, the Hawks found their offense. Without rim protection to stop him, Hawks point guard Jeff Teague went off for 12 second quarter points on his way to a monster game that would keep his team in this contest and eventually take it in overtime.
“It was the second quarter that got us,” Casey said. “We wanted to keep the three out of the game and they got it involved in the second quarter and they had a 32 point quarter which was huge.”
Teague was relatively quiet in the first and third quarters when Valanciunas was present, but near the end of the third quarter, the Raptors young center felt something in his back and the trainers sat him for the rest of the game with a lower back sprain. Teague went off for 11 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t just his scoring that hurt the Raptors, Teague also had 4 steals to go with his career high tying 34 points.
Toronto scored easily and often in this game and the fourth quarter was no exception. The Raptors hit 60 percent of their shots and scored 28 points and that should have been enough, but in the quarter the Hawks turned them over 7 times, including 4 steals, to pick up the net 7 extra points on turnovers they needed for the tie at the end of regulation.
At times it seemed like rebounding was keeping the Hawks in this game, but the Raptors out rebounded them 50-40 and Atlanta only had 2 more offensive boards during the game than Toronto. Atlanta scored 22 points off 15 Raptors turnovers while Toronto only managed 12 points on 9 Hawks turnovers. Atlanta ended up with 13 more shot attempts than the Raptors.
“The other thing was our turnovers,” Casey said. “I just thought we were causal with the basketball. (We) had a lot of opportunities to attack and we were causal and soft with our passes and they took advantage of it.”
The Raptors shot 49.4 percent for the game and were led by 29 points and 10 rebounds from DeMar DeRozan, but the All-Star was just 1-4 for 2 points in the overtime. Kyle Lowry had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists and Valanciunas had 16 points and 5 boards before he left after just 20.4 minutes. A total of 6 Raptors players scored in double-digits.
Valanciunas’ situation for his next game remains uncertain, but an abundance of caution from the Raptors is likely with their sophomore center.
“I stopped and hyper-extended my back,” Valanciunas said. “I can’t tell much about it. I felt pain and that’s it.”
The Hawks Paul Millsap had the first triple-double of his career with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Kyle Korver added 16 points.
The Raptors have a right to complain about the officiating at the end of this game. DeRozan was called for a highly suspect charge with 1:02 left in regulation and then DeRozan was charged with a turnover – losing the ball out of bounds with 33.2 seconds left – when a replay was pretty clear that the ball had hit Korver’s fingers on the way out. However, like Casey explained postgame, the Raptors blew this game in the second quarter. It should never have been in the hands of the referees at the end.
The Raptors play again in New Orleans on Wednesday. They have another shot at the Hawks in Toronto on Sunday.
The Hawks don’t play again until Friday against the Pelicans.
Toronto Raptors Look After Nando De Colo And His Girlfriend
“She is Spanish,” De Colo said. “It’s okay, she was with me in San Antonio, so after a year and a half, she knows this kind of life. Now to come to Toronto, it is just a new life and new city and everything is different, but it’s a new experience, so it’s exciting.”