For three-quarters, it looked like the Atlanta Hawks were on their way to a momentum building win. Even in the third when the Raptors fist cut into the lead, it never quite felt that Atlanta lost control of the game. The game came crashing down around the Hawks in the fourth quarter where they were outscored 39-20 in what the players and coaches described as a total let down on both ends of the floor.
"39-20 fourth quarter. It's bad defense, bad offense," said a clearly agitated Mike Budenholzer after the game.
Atlanta shot just 7 for 26 from the field in the fourth quarter and were 2 of 9 from three-point range. This wasn't a matter of them simply missing shots however as the ball and player movement that has become a staple of the team ground to a halt.
"No, I don't think this was one of those nights where, offensively, we got the looks we wanted in the fourth quarter," Budenholzer said. "I thought the ball was stagnant. It didn't move. We'll look. Maybe there were some more good looks than I can recall at this moment, but I didn't think the offense was very good in the fourth quarter."
Perhaps some of those offensive struggles can be traced to the defensive end of the floor. Budenholzer has said often that Atlanta's defensive activity helps fuel the offense. Toronto shot 74 percent from the field in the fourth quarter on Wednesday going 14 of 19 from the field with Kyle Lowry accounting for 22 of their 39 points scored in the period.
"We got beat 39-20 in the fourth quarter.... We didn't execute very well on offense, and let them get back to the basket on defense," Kyle Korver added. "It was just one of those games I felt like we should've been in control. We have to play better with the lead."
The Hawks played a brutal stretch of the schedule in November. They had players in and out of the rotation due to injury and performance. That has led to some up and down play and inconsistency throughout the early part of the season. They seemed to have turned the corner with Monday's win over the Oklahoma City. Now we will have to wait and see how far Wednesday's loss sets them back.
"We have to start putting together full games and try to put multiple games together," Korver said. "We've been so up-and-down this year. We had the one winning streak but now we've just kind of been like game-to-game. We don't know who's coming out here to play, but we have to do better than that for a lot of reasons."