The Toronto Raptors stunned the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night with a huge 96-86 comeback victory in Atlanta.
The Raptors were led by All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry in this one. After scoring just nine points in the first three quarters, Lowry went off in the fourth scoring 22 of his 31 on 7-for-8 shooting in the frame. He also dished out five assists, grabbed five rebounds, and recorded two steals. Despite being known as more of a perimeter scorer, Lowry did a fantastic job of getting to the rim for easy buckets and drawing fouls, going 11-for-12 from the free-throw line in the game.
DeMar DeRozan added 17 points and four rebounds for Toronto as well, and the Raptor bench of Cory Joseph, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson and Lucas Nogueira were very productive in the second half; helping to secure the victory. Joseph scored 10 points while Ross and Patterson added eight and six, respectively. Patterson also grabbed seven boards.
The Raptors need more games like this out of Ross and Patterson to help bring that extra scoring punch off the bench. Due to the injury of Jonas Valanciunas, young Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira had an opportunity to get some quality minutes for Toronto, and he took advantage. Nogueira played 16 minutes, throwing down two alley-oop jams for four points but more importantly grabbed seven rebounds. Nogueira was a +22 for the game.
The Hawks were led by a balanced attack offensively. Paul Millsap led Atlanta in scoring with 14 points to go with nine boards, followed by Thabo Sefolosha who added 13 points. Al Horford and Kyle Korver each added 12 while Jeff Teague poured in 11 to go with 10 assists.
Newly signed Raptor DeMarre Carroll made his return to Atlanta in this matchup after spending the last two seasons with the Hawks. Carroll had a quiet evening scoring five points on eight shots.
The first half of the game was dominated by Atlanta. Toronto’s offense was very stagnant while the Hawks were the exact opposite. Atlanta’s outstanding ability to move the ball along while winning the turnover battle were critical components in helping the Hawks jump out to a 46-32 lead at the half. After being down by as many as 17 in the third, Toronto started chipping away and were able to trim the lead to nine heading into the fourth.
Toronto dominated the fourth quarter by scoring 39 points while giving up just 20. Toronto’s players, most particularly Lowry and Joseph, were very aggressive in the fourth, which not only led to easy buckets and trips to the free throw line but also opened up the three-point shot that was utilized effectively.
While the Raptors’ offense had its ups and downs, Toronto was able to keep within striking distance all game because of their defense. The Hawks are an excellent scoring team averaging 102.4 points per game; good for seventh in the league. The Raptors held them to just 86 points on 37 percent shooting.
The Raptors have now won five of their last six games and improve to 12-7 on the season with the win while the Hawks fall to 12-9.
The Raptors will return to Toronto for a six-game homestand that features the Denver Nuggets as their first opponent; the opening game of what will be the first time the Raptors will play back-to-back home games this year. The Hawks will finish up their three-game homestand on Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.