Raptors 105 – Atlanta Hawks 97: big W

Mar 10, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (0) tries to go to the basket as he is guarded by Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and point guard Kyle Lowry (7) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Hawks 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (0) tries to go to the basket as he is guarded by Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and point guard Kyle Lowry (7) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Hawks 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Raptors had built up so much of a margin against the Hawks that even a Q4 scoring drought couldn’t ruin a record-setting night.

A Toronto Raptors lead which had ballooned to 22 points as the third quarter ended was slipping away. The Air Canada Centre had gone deathly quiet. Terrence Ross had made a pair of floaters early in Q4, after which the scoreboard was stuck on “Toronto – 93”. The Atlanta Hawks’ second unit scored 14 unanswered points, and Raptors coach Dwane Casey had no choice. He re-inserted Norman Powell and DeMar DeRozan, who scored the Raptors first points in almost 6 minutes with a pair of free throws.

Mar 10, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford (15) battles for a loose ball against Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Hawks 104-97. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford (15) battles for a loose ball against Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Hawks 104-97. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Kyle Lowry’s floater was the Raptors first field goal in nearly 7 minutes, and it seemed to light a spark. The Raptors were not severely pressed after that. The franchise’s first 50-win season was finally in the books.

The Raptors caught the Hawks on an off-night for shooting, although Toronto’s defense deserves some credit as well. Fourteen steals is a huge number; many of those were caused by the Hawks making desperation passes late in the shot-clock.

The shooting of Kyle Korver makes or breaks the Atlanta offense, and he had a dreadful night. Powell and TRoss worked hard to keep the ball out of his hands, and Korver hit just one basket.

Lowry’s shooting woes continue, although at least we know why. His injured elbow had a sleeve on it for protection, and I don’t think any of his numerous tumbles aggravated the problem. What’s troubling is his shot selection; he seems to want to score highly on the Degree of Difficulty Scale, except this isn’t figure skating so there isn’t one. He had three shots blocked last night because he insisted on trying to shoot over trees.

Lowry dished out 11 dimes, but that didn’t help his critical ratio much, as he was charged with 5 turnovers.

DeRozan led Toronto scoring, again, this time with 26 efficiently attained points. His shooting from beyond the arc continues to improve; he was 3 of 4 last night.

Jonas Valanciunas took full advantage of Atlanta’s lack of size by using his to bully inside for 19 points. He grabbed nine rebounds but fouled out before he could reach a double-double. Lauren Holtkamp, whose competence to referee has been repeatedly questioned, called him for a foul while he was grappling with Mike Muscala. Suffice to say that whistle, and a later offensive foul called by Monty McCutchen which nullified a basket, were not popular with the sold-out ACC crowd.

Bismack Biyombo likewise didn’t have big men to bully, so his night was solid but unspectacular. We’re happy to see him make opponents pay for hacking; he was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.

TRoss was fine in his first game back after sitting due to an irksome thumb injury. He scored 13, defended with brains and energy, and grabbed 3 boards.

Luis Scola had the night off, and Jason Thompson started in his place. How long this experiment continues is unknown, or maybe it’s already over. Jason had a put-back basket in 15+ minutes.

The Raptors embark on a nasty 2-game road trip, which commences tomorrow night in Memphis and concludes Saturday night in San Antonio.