ATLANTA, GA—On Wednesday night the Atlanta Hawks were able to outlast the Toronto Raptors in the final seconds of regulation 93-92. The Hawks, who were coming off of a gut-wrenching defeat in New York on Sunday, really wanted to bounce back with a win as they headed back home to Phillips Arena.
Much like the game Sunday in New York, this game would come down to the final seconds.
After Toronto took the lead on a three-point shot from forward Alan Anderson, Al Horford would score four straight points in the final minute. First, after a couple of Horford free throws, the lead was cut to two. Then, after a timeout and a terrific pass from Josh Smith, Horford would slam it home for the go ahead score with 21.5 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Toronto would get stripped of the ball, regain it after a mad scramble, only to have the ball stolen by Horford as time expired. Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey was livid as he believed Horford committed a foul on the final play.
Nevertheless, the Hawks prevailed and improved their record to 26-19.
The Raptors (who were short-handed after guard Jose Calderon and forward Ed Davis were traded a couple hours before tip-off) gave the Hawks all they could handle, and even held a 13-point lead in the second quarter. Despite also missing their second-leading scorer Andrea Bargnani, they were able to get production from other areas. DeMar DeRozan was Toronto’s leading scorer with 23 points. John Lucas also contributed with 19 points of his own—a season high. Toronto put up a valiant effort but came up short in the end.
Hawks head coach Larry Drew said he warned his team prior to the game not be distracted by the Toronto trade. However, the team still came out flat, falling behind to an under-manned team at home. Though, after a sluggish start Drew was able to rally his troops in the locker room as the team responded in the second half. Atlanta would come out in the second half as a different team, opening the half on a 13-3 run, which erased the early deficit.
Horford led the Hawks with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Smith added 20 points, and Kyle Korver contributed 17 points (with five three-point FGs). Korver also passed Dell Curry for 34th on the NBA’s all-time three point list.
Toronto will now look to move forward with a new look team, after they traded Calderon and Davis in a three-team deal for Memphis’ star forward Rudy Gay.
The Hawks are off until Saturday at 7:30pm when the Chicago Bulls will come to the “Highlight Factory”. The Hawks will want to avenge their embarrassing loss in Chicago two weeks ago, when the Bulls held them to a franchise-low 58 points (20 in the first half, also a franchise low).
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Written by Darryl L. Jones