Feb 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) tries to get around Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Atlanta 104-83. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors 104 - Atlanta Hawks 83: Keep pluggin' away

The Toronto Raptors have 3 players heading to New Orleans for All-Star weekend, though only DeMar DeRozan will actually play in the game itself. DD banished any lingering doubts about his fitness for All-Star status with a vintage performance last night against the Atlanta Hawks. While he, and the entire team, started slowly, DD found the range with his trademark mid-range jumpers. He helped Toronto escape the doldrums of having scored 4 points after more than 6 minutes of Q1. The Raps, fortunate to be playing an offensively challenged Hawks squad, nudged ahead for the first time just before intermission. Normalcy reigned in the second half, which the Raps “won” 59-39.

Feb 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) battles for the ball with Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) and forward-center Gustavo Ayon (14) and guard-forward Kyle Korver (26) during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

DeMar led all scorers with 31 points, and had considerable scoring help from the other starters, save one. Kyle Lowry posted another dandy game, scoring 16 points and adding 13 assists. While part of me wishes he wouldn’t try to rebound (I’m afraid he’ll get his nose broken, or something worse, when scampering among the flying elbows under the basket), his 6 boards were helpful indeed. Patrick Patterson enjoyed his second straight start in place of the banged-up Amir Johnson, and tossed in 14, despite going just one of 6 from 3-point land. Terrence Ross was part of the woeful 1 for 11 way the Raps began the game, but found his stroke later. TRoss was 3 of 8 from distance, ending with 13 points, and stifled Kyle Korver. Keeping the Hawks’ most dangerous shooter under wraps (Korver ended with 8 points) was critical, as he is the fulcrum on which their offense bends. Jonas Valanciunas had to be satisfied with the vicarious pleasure of watching his teammates score, because he didn’t do much of his own. While JV pulled down 14 boards, and was matched up against second-stringer Gustavo Ayon, he managed only one bucket on 9 shots. Many of those were unchallenged, and up close; we can only hope this was a one-game slump. Ayon enjoyed a fine game, scoring 18 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Greivis Vasquez was effective in relief, scoring a dozen.

Putbacks: TRoss will be defending his slam-dunk championship this weekend, but had no dunks… JV has been invited as a Rising Star, which he is, this game aside… I called for a 103-87 Raps win in my preview; not bad.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Toronto Raptors

  • Rowdy101

    After watching this game, the Raptors can go far in the playoffs. When they’re on, they are tough. They need that “big”, though. Somehow trade for Jefferson (why not stretch the wish list).

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Rowdy:
      I’m of two minds on the need for a BIG big.
      Why we need one: Patrick Patterson is undersized, and more effective away from the basket anyway. Amir has trouble keeping determined power forwards out of the paint. Tyler Hansbrough is tough enough, but any buckets from him are a fluke.
      Why we should hold off: Team chemistry is very high right now. The price for a Jefferson or similar player would be enormous.
      On balance, I’d say we should wait until the summer, and get serious then. Assuming Kyle can be lured back, we’ve got our 1,2,3 & 5 starting spots covered already for next season, and Masai can concentrate on finding a quality bruiser.
      That’s my take – what say you?

      • Rowdy101

        I’m thinking about the playoffs. Assuming everyone plays to their abilities, the Raps show up well against most players, and would give the Heat a hard time. The paint is where work is needed. And Amir, JV and Hayes are simply not big enough at the moment against really big guys. Energy will win some games, but not regularly.

        As a GM you can’t be the nice guy. Someone is going to get moved. My guess is that Amir, Patterson and Fields are the pieces.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Rowdy:
          We have a few more days to speculate. My guess is we won’t see Masai make any deals, unless he can pry a draft pick from someone. I agree that Amir is a likely trade candidate; not so sure about the other two.
          Stay tuned.