The Atlanta Hawks are below .500 for the first time since Dec. 2 after falling to the Toronto Raptors last night 104-83. During this five-game skid the Hawks are averaging 85.8 ppg, which is a major problem. The Hawks doubled the Raptors in turnovers, shot just 20 percent from 3, and just could not slow down Raptors' All-Star DeMar DeRozan without DeMarre Carroll.
Things were actually looking up in the first quarter as Jeff Teague was playing aggressive, Paul Millsap was doing Millsap-esque things, Jonas Valanciunas could not finish around the hoop and most importantly the Hawks held DeRozan to just two points in the quarter. It didn't feel like the Hawks were playing their second game of a back-to-back at least in the first quarter.
The second-unit started the second quarter and struggled to get into any kind of offensive flow. Elton Brand, Cartier Martin, Shelvin Mack and Dennis Schröder missed their only looks in the quarter. Gustavo Ayon went 4-of-4 in the quarter and kept the Hawks in the game.
The second half is where the wheels fell off for the Hawks as they surrendered 33 points to the Raptors while scoring only 21 of their own. The trio of DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Patrick Patterson got on track and scored 27 of the Raptors 31 points in the quarter. Patterson was hitting from his go-to spots in 17-to-18 foot area, Lowry was getting to line and DeRozan was making shots from everywhere on the floor. This was a quarter the Hawks needed Millsap, Teague or Lou to go off to counteract the Raptors aggressiveness. It didn't happen.
The Hawks went into the fourth quarter down 13, but with the bench unit in the team did not score until the 8:37 mark. Mike Scott, Schroder, and Mack continued to struggle scoring the basketball. The team went 1-of-6 from 3 in the fourth (4-of-19 overall).
The shots simply weren't falling and not having Carroll to match up with DeRozan was just too major a blow for the club. This isn't the way you want to head into the All-Star break, but the Hawks clearly needed a break to rest and regroup. Getting Pero Antic and Carroll back will be a huge help, but the the inconsistent guard play from Teague and Lou is a problem that doesn't seem to be going away. So, that's something to monitor going forward as well.
The Hawks return to action Tuesday February 18 to take on the Pacers in Indiana.
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