With one game remaining before heading home, the Atlanta Hawks were eager to get one more win on the road against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre on Thursday night. In the end, the game would come down to which team could execute the most plays with the least mistakes.
A Close First Half
In the first half, the Hawks continued to employ defensive pressure early on which had been a key contributing factor to their success in previous games. Atlanta maintained that lead up until just under two minutes remained in the quarter; the first quarter ended with the Hawks' regaining the lead 21-20.
The second quarter began much like the first with the Hawks continuing to put up points. However, minutes into the period, Toronto took the lead after Atlanta missed vital shots and committed unnecessary mistakes. Halfway through the second quarter, a total of ten fouls had been called on the Hawks while only four were called on the Raptors.
Prior to the end of the second quarter, the Hawks were able to tie the game at 48 after trailing by as much as five points. Although they continued to excel defensively, Atlanta was unable to take the lead, and the period ended 52-48.
Both teams were playing excellent basketball, which made the mistakes that were committed that more detrimental for each team. The Hawks had three turnovers in the first half and shot 40 percent, while the Raptors had no turnovers and shot 51.2 percent. Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped up for the Hawks with a total of nine points in the half. For the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan put up 16 points and three rebounds.
Raptors Take The Lead
The lead alternated back and forth early into the third as each team fought for the win. The Hawks started to lose their momentum and allowed the Raptors to take another five-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the period. Avoidable fouls by Toronto allowed Atlanta another chance to take the lead, but the Raptors were ultimately able to make more shots and force the Hawks to make mistakes. The third quarter ended with Toronto leading 82-75.
The Hawks’ defense began to deteriorate shortly into the fourth quarter allowing the Raptors to continue to put up points. Atlanta trailed by ten with less than four minutes left in the game largely due to poor shooting. As the Hawks struggled to make shots, the point deficit increased as the clock continued to run. The game ended with a Toronto win 104 – 96. Game leaders included DeRozan for Toronto with 30 points and five rebounds, and the Hawks' Al Horford with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists.