The Atlanta Hawks (17-20) returned from the All-Star Break with an important Eastern Conference matchup against the Toronto Raptors (17-20) on Thursday evening. The Raptors entered in the No. 8 spot in the East standings going into the second “half” of this COVID-shortened season; Atlanta entered at No. 11.
The Raptors were missing a host of players, including OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Malachi Flynn, and Patrick McCaw. This required the Raptors to start former Hawks guard DeAndre’ Bembry. The Hawks listed Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, and Kris Dunn on the injury report for tonight’s game.
The Hawks managed to steal a win in this roller-coaster game against the depleted Raptors. Despite being up by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, the Hawks found themselves in a 15-point hole in the fourth quarter. But a hard-fought final six minutes led to a Tony Snell game-winning three.
The Hawks started the first quarter on a 7-0 run as Toronto seemed unable to gather any resistance defensively. The Raptors couldn’t find any rhythm offensively either, as they went 2/12 (16%) from the field in the first five minutes of the game.
Trae Young came out in aggressive fashion. He missed some deep three-pointers early, but nailed this one when the defense dropped and left him with too much time and space.
The Raptors did end up finding some offensive flow and managed to cut the lead to 20-15 at the five-minute mark. But Atlanta stayed strong and kept their foot on the gas on offense, winning the final five minutes 17-11.
This was pretty.
Atlanta took a 37-26 lead into the second quarter. They shot 15/29 (51.7%) to the Raptors’ abysmal 7/23 (30.4%) in the quarter. Young led the Hawks with 11 points in the frame, with Norman Powell pouring in 12 points for the opposition.
The Hawks started the second quarter with some strong shooting, scoring on four of the first five offensive possessions. Including this jam from the young Hawks rookie, Onyeka Okongwu.
However, they failed to generate enough stops to stretch their lead even further. After a 10-0 run from Toronto, Atlanta took the same 11-point lead into a timeout at the 7:16 mark.
It got worse for the Hawks, as they scored only two points from the seven-minute mark to the five-minute mark. The Raptors went on a 18-4 run in the middle of the quarter to cut the Hawks lead down to 51-47 with four minutes left.
The two teams mostly traded buckets for the last four minutes of the half. Here’s a nice John Collins post jumper, even if it is indicative of the type offense the Hawks demonstrated the second half.
Yes, John Collins is, in fact, a bucket. pic.twitter.com/Ou6xTDxb05— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 12, 2021
The Hawks finished the first half with only a five-point lead at 64-59, after leading by as many as 19 points in the beginning of the second quarter. Young led all scorers with 20 points at the half, including nine points from the free throw line (9/12). Clint Capela contributed in his unique way with 12 rebounds and four blocks. The Hawks shot only 35% (7/20) in the second quarter, while the Raptors shot 54% (13/24). Almost a complete script-flip from the first quarter.
The second half started off well for the Raptors as they tied the game at 73 at the 7:19 mark, evaporating the Hawks huge lead they had enjoyed in the second quarter. The Raptors went on a 14-5 run after the Hawks took a nine-point lead at 68-59.
Once again, the two teams traded baskets all through the middle of the quarter, with neither side really able to get the upper hand. But that changed in the final three minutes of the period, as the Raptors stretched out a seven-point lead after an 8-1 run from the 3:56 mark.
The Raptors stretched this out to a ten-point lead by the end of the third quarter, 94-84. The Hawks shooting woes from the second quarter did not improve, as they shot 6/19 (31.5%) in the third quarter. The Raptors meanwhile, continued their hot shooting, going 13/24 (54.1%, again).
Each team went on respective runs to start the fourth quarter, but the Raptors’ was more potent. Atlanta first went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 96-91. But Toronto responded with their own 8-0 run to take the lead back up to 13, 104-91.
A 12-0 run from Atlanta starting with six minutes left in the fourth quarter got the Hawks within three points at 112-109 at the 2:25 mark. The run was sparked by this deep three from Young.
Chris Boucher hit two free throws to break the Raptors drought to give them a five-point lead at 114-109.
It was an absolute battle from this point on. The Hawks got closer and closer with tough buckets like this tip in (yes, tip in) from Young, on a Collins miss in transition.
It was a two-point game in favor of the Raptors at 120-118 with 26.9 seconds left. After an unfortunate bounce off of Collins’ hands resulted in another offensive opportunity for the Raptors, the Hawks stood firm when Bembry missed a tough fading floater in the lane.
With 7.1 seconds left in the game, the Hawks had the ball down two points. Huerter inbounded to Young who drove into the lane, kicking it out to Tony “Cheat Code” Snell for the game-winning triple.
The Hawks, who led by as many as 19, and trailed by 15 in the fourth quarter, came back for the hard-fought victory over their Eastern Conference rivals, 121-120.
Young led all scorers with 37 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Huerter also chipped in 19 points (12 points in the fourth quarter), and Capela contributed 18 rebounds. Atlanta shot 43.3% for the game and 50.0% (11/22) in the final frame. The Hawks won the fourth quarter 37-26.