In what should have been a gritty, nail-biting game between the East's best, tonight's showdown became a lopsided affair as the Toronto Raptors smashed right through the Atlanta Hawks in Hot-lanta.
After the All-Star break, and with no changes to their roster during the crazy trade deadline day, the Raptors came into this game looking to build on their strong three game win streak. The first half was a neck-and-neck battle between both squads. But in the second half, Toronto took off, scoring 28 points in the third quarter alone.
Leading the pack was Lou Williams who scored 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting along with seven three-pointers. DeMar DeRozan had 21 points and eight rebounds.Toronto, having already defeated the Hawks twice this season, also used their defense to steal the game away. Williams had four of the Raps' 15 steals. And, oh yeah, the team also blocked nine shots.
The Raptors biggest lead of the game came out to 33 points as they feasted on the Hawks' 22 turnovers. And just to complete their dominance, Toronto also pounded the paint scoring 48 points inside.
Meanwhile, for the Hawks - who also stood still at the trade deadline - sharp shooting specialist Kyle Korver seemed out of rhythm all night as he went a mere 3-of-13 from the field (including a very uncharacteristic 2-of-11 from three). The All-Star trio of Paul Millsap, Korver and Jeff Teague only scored 11 points each. Fellow All-Star Al Horford managed a meagre seven points.
The Raptors have now won the season series against Atlanta 3-1. This is the first time they've won a season series against the Hawks since 2007-08. Still, despite the huge win, Atlanta maintains a healthy 5.5 game lead in the Eastern Conference standings.
Extra Game Notes:
- Jonas Valanciunas had 13 rebounds and eight points and was +15 for the game.
- This is Toronto's third stretch of four games in five nights.
- Toronto is 10-1 during the first games of back-to-backs this season including a 6-0 record when starting on the road.
- Amir Johnson had seven points and 11 rebounds on a +25 game.
- As mentioned, Atlanta had 22 turnovers, one away from it's season high.
- Forward Thabo Sefolosha missed his eighth straight game with a right calf strain.
- The Atlanta Hawks had a halftime ceremony honouring the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement as part of Black History Month.
What did you think of the game? Do you think the Raptors can get the first seed in the East again?
Let us know what you think in the comment section below.