This is a fun team. Coming off wins against Cleveland and Phoenix with a game against Dallas on Friday, you’d think the Raptors were set up for a letdown against a streaky, under the radar Hawks team.
No such luck. The defense was weak, but the Raptors absolutely sizzled on the offensive end. As a team, they shot 52 percent from the field, 48 percent from deep, and poured in 25 fast break points to win 126-115.
The win moves Toronto to 13-2, which is 3.5 games clear of Washington for best in the East and half a game clear of Memphis and Golden State for best in the NBA. They haven’t lost in two weeks. Atlanta drops to 7-6.
Dwane Casey, as has become custom this season, made full use of his active rotation. To start the game, DeMar DeRozan worked over DeMarre Carroll from all over the floor, scoring 10 of the first 17 Raptors points. He’d finish with 27 to lead the team. Kyle Lowry was no slouch, controlling portions of the game and flirting with a triple-double at 14 points, 13 assists, and six rebounds.
The bench was perhaps a bigger story, though, as Greivis Vasquez finally broke his shooting slump to add another chapter to #WeTheFourth. He dropped 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including the first 12 points of the Raptors fourth quarter. This streak extended Toronto’s lead to ten, and though Atlanta would put dents in, that ended up holding.
Oh, and we can’t forget about Sweet Lou. The campaign for Sixth Man of the Year has gone from nervous quiet to tempered rumble this week, and Lou Williams continued his tear Wednesday with 22 points on 11 shots. Having been traded by Atlanta in the offseason, he was dynamite in his homecoming.
The Hawks weren’t pushovers by any stretch. In the first half, they kept it close with the three-ball, dropping 8-of-13 in the opening 24. Jeff Teague led the team with 24 points and 12 assists, but Toronto bottled him up with double-teams from James Johnson and Patrick Patterson late. Al Horford had a nice night as well, dominating Toronto’s small ball lineups on his way to 23 points and nine rebounds.
When it came to key stops, though - the Hawks had nothing. The Raptors did whatever they wanted to do on the offensive end, whether it was Lowry post-ups, transition 3’s or pick and roll jumpers. It just looked easy on that end of the floor tonight.
Not only does the win give the Raptors a franchise-best 4-1 start on the road, it also means we’ve heard the last of the Phillips Arena organist, who played a contemporary classics medley nonstop for the entirety of the game. It even bled into timeouts.
A 6-1 home stand has us feeling fat and sassy when it comes to crowd noise but man, that really felt distracting as an outsider.
Anyway, time for a flight back home to prepare for purple jerseys and a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. If you thought this one was a track meet, you should probably tune in Friday.
What were your thoughts on this one?