The Toronto Raptors welcomed the Atlanta Hawks to Scotiabank Arena tonight for the last game of their home stand. Hoping to get their fourth win in a row before hitting the road, hopes were high for the Raptors after a great week.
Injuries were low yet again, with the only people out being the 905-ers and Porter Jr. The Atlanta Hawks were also on night two of a back to back after beating Indiana last night.
That’s basically where the positive news ends for tonight.
It didn’t look like the Hawks were on a back to back — they blasted out to gain a 18-2 lead on the Raptors early on. Fred VanVleet went 0-5 from the field and 0-2 from three early on, and it wasn’t until the wings got involves that the Raptors started getting themselves on the board.
Not a great start. Spoiler alert: it didn’t get too much better.
Nick Nurse was quick to get the subs rolling in, and Malachi Flynn scored a quick five to help the Raptors bridge the gap. Pre-game, Nick Nurse mentioned Flynn’s ability to go on streaks and how he was overall “happy” with his performance this season. He proved those feelings right tonight.
By the end of the first quarter, the Raptors had begun to recover, and were down 34-25 to the Hawks. Hugely in part to Malachi’s seven points and Pascal Siakam’s eight.
The second quarter saw a lot of the same problems as the first, as the Raptors tried to get back. It didn’t help that the refs were seemingly not interested in blowing the whistle much on the Raptors’ end of the court. The Raptors also were not hitting much offensively either.
Nick Nurse even got involved, getting himself a technical foul in the process, but the Raptors still struggled through the second quarter to bring themselves any closer than 10 points.
It continued to be a rough night as Dejounte Murray and Trae Young scored 18 and 17 respectively in the half, causing the Raptors to slide to 69-57 by halftime.
The positive early on was Scottie Barnes, who was extremely active on the glass with seven rebounds. He also scored 13 points on 6-11 shooting. He quickly became the highlight for the Raptors all game.
Scottie Barnes had 27 points, 12 rebounds & 2 assists on 9/16 FG tonight, the only Raptors starter to shoot over 40%.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) January 15, 2023
His 11th career 20-point double-double.
It was honestly a lot of the same in the third quarter. Scottie Barnes continued to play well, reaching a double double well before the end of the quarter. He was the only Raptor having an overly good night, and by the end of the quarter had 21 points.
The fourth quarter showed some signs of life, like Boucher hitting a three pointer, but other than that it was more of the same. The crowd was lively throughout, despite the score, which is a positive if you’ve been following the ups and downs of the SBA vibes this year.
WHAT. A. PASS pic.twitter.com/AowqRHNaDf— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 15, 2023
The Raptors brought it within seven points with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and the comeback was in sight...
Yet it was not enough.
On the tails of a 29 point Trae Young performance, a 27 point Dejounte Murray performance, and a Raptors team where Scottie Barnes was the only player to score above 20 points — the Raptors couldn’t take the W against Atlanta Hawks.
After Scottie, the next highest scorer for the Raptors was Siakam with 15 points. From there, Achiuwa and Anunoby each had 14, Boucher had 13, and everyone else was in single digits.
Scottie Barnes ended the night with 27 points, 12 rebounds and two assists. he shot that on 9-16 from the field, and 9-10 from the free throw line.
So what’s next for the Raptors? They play the rest of the month — except for two games — on the road. Most of the teams they play are playoff teams. The trade deadline looms ahead.
Yet, despite all this, the East is extremely congested, so not all hopes are lost. There is a lot of basketball left to play.
The Raptors future is extremely hard to predict. Tonight did not help. It’s hard to know what they will do, when to do it, and what the front office is thinking right now.
For now, the Raptors will play a special day time game on the road, Monday afternoon in New York City for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They will face the Knicks at 3:00p.m. EST on TSN.