Raptors edge Hawks 126-115: DeMar and Lou take charge


Nov 26, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) dribbles the ball between Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) and forward Paul Millsap (4) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Raptors won 126-115. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The eastern conference leading Toronto Raptors faced up against the Atlanta Hawks for a second time in the young NBA season last night. The Raptors once again got off to their now characteristic slow start. Paul Millsap led the Hawks to an early lead beforepicking up two quick fouls with 5 minutes to go, while DeMar DeRozan (27 points, 5 turnovers) converted all 5 of his field goals and forced the Raptors back in the game and built the lead up to 10 by the end of the quarter. The refs made their presence known early and often in this game, giving out a couple of technical fouls back to back after Carroll and Mack said some magic words

This was a game full of momentum shifts, but the Hawks simply outplayed the Raptors in the second. Despite a strong performance by Lou Williams off the bench, the Raptors lackadaisical defense and uncharacteristic turnovers led to 6 made three’s for Atlanta in the quarter. Kyle Korver (19 points) started to find his range, and despite not being fully recovered from injury, Al Horford (23 points, 9 rebounds) was a model of efficiency from mid-range and in the paint. Greivis Vasquez quietly had one of his best quarters of the year and the Raptors clung on to a one point lead at the halftime break.

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The third quarter was sloppy on both sides from start to finish, but they each managed to put up 27 points. At various points throughout the game, it looks as if the Raptors were ready to blow out the Hawkes, but the teams were evenly matched in the third. Kyle Lowry (14 points, 6 rebounds, 13 assists) refused to allow the Hawkes to build a lead, even getting a tech while he led a furious Raptors offensive push. Lou Williams (22 points) continued to terrorize opposing squads at the end of quarters.

Greivis Vasquez (21 points on 8-12 shooting) and the bench unit dominated the start of the fourth quarter. In a string of four offensive possessions, Vasquez converted an and-one, then rattled off three 3-point shots. Just when it started to look like we’d seen the return of 2013-14 Greivis, Casey pulled his bench unit after a strong Hawkes counter-attack. Jeff Teague (24 points) battled to keep the Hawkes in the game, and they refused to go away until the end of the frame. The Raptors maintained a somewhat comfortable lead throughout the fourth, and wrapped up their 13th win of the season.

Three things I liked:

  1. James Johnson’s help side defense is a beautiful thing to watch. He’s their most versatile defensive player, and effectively held Kyle Korver and Al Horford in check while he was covering them.
  2. We already knew that Lou Williams was a terror at the end of quarters, but his defense (3 steals tonight) is giving Casey more reasons to keep him on the floor.
  3. Greivis Vasquez finally shooting his way out of his slump. He blew up for twelve quick points in the fourth quarter, and the Raptors needed every one of them with a determined Hawkes squad nipping at their heals.

Three things I didn’t like:

  1. Anyone else get a headache watching this game? The organ music playing throughout the game was incredibly irritating, and often made it difficult to enjoy the basketball being played.
  2. Jonas Valanciunas being nailed to the bench for yet another fourth quarter. Unless there’s a big who JV simply can not handle defensively, there’s no reason why Chuck Hayes should be taking his fourth quarter minutes.
  3. Bruno in a suit. I check before every game to see whether Bruno has his uniform on, and get a little deflated when I see him in a suit. #FREEBRUNO