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Dennis Schroder leads Hawks over Raptors

Schroder came up big in the fourth as the Hawks pulled off a big Eastern Conference win.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Schroder played the role of closer as the Atlanta Hawks closed out a homestand with a hard fought 105-99 win over the Toronto Raptors. Schroder scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to help Atlanta pull away for the win.

“In the fourth quarter, the way we were able to execute, make some free throws, make some big baskets. It was 96-88, it gave us that cushion. We were able to get enough stops,” Mike Budenholzer said following the game. “Thabo, Baze, everybody on DeRozan...the bigs. He’s such an aggressive scorer. You have to make everything tough on him individually. Thabo and Baze were good and the bigs were good. It’s a good win for us to finish the homestand.”

Atlanta outscored Toronto 31-24 in the fourth and were 8 of 12 from the field and 13 of 16 from the free throw line. The Hawks were just 6 of 13 from the charity stripe entering the fourth quarter.

“It was just executing down the stretch and then we didn’t turn the ball over, we did get back in transition,” Tim Hardaway Jr said who returned to starting lineup and finished with 20 points. “We made it tough for their guards to score. We just broke it down and got open off screens and hit some open shots, and also rebounded well.”

Since being benched in the second half of Atlanta’s loss to Golden State, Schroder has been on fire and playing with a lot of aggression. That was the case against the Raptors, particularly late when he got to the free throw line eight times with all coming in the fourth quarter.

“Dennis has the ball in his hands a lot of times in the fourth quarter making decisions, making a good play,” Budenholzer added. I think it was him offensively then our defense giving us that little bit of separation.”

Schroder connected on 9-of-18 attempts from the field and handed out five assists to go along with four turnovers. He has scored at least 23 points in each of the last three games.

“He collapses the defense,” Budenholzer said when asked about Schroder’s knack for getting into the paint. “He creates offensive rebounding opportunities. At some point, they start switching. Paul drives to the basket and gets the fifth foul on Ibaka after a switch. That’s a tough cover for a point guard guarding Paul. I think there a lot of things between Paul and Dennis that they create good situations for us.”

The win gives Atlanta a 2-1 edge in the season series with the Raptors and the tiebreaker advantage. The Hawks currently trail Toronto by two games in the Eastern Conference standings.

“It’s big, it was the same scenario as the game against Indiana where they were behind us in the standings, but this time we closed it out,” Schroder said on winning the series against the Raptors.

Atlanta has now won two straight and finish 3-3 on their six-game homestand. They will complete a back-to-back on Saturday night in Memphis before traveling to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Monday.

“It was very nice, a great way to finish it at .500 and we need to carry that momentum on the road,” Hardaway added. “We have two tough ones against two really good Western teams so we have to keep playing with the same mentality.”