Raptors Thump Hawks; 108-93

1.24.18

 

Atlanta – Jonas Valanciunas poured in 16 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors continued to assert its claim as the best team in the Eastern Conference with a 108-93 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.  On a night when Toronto’s best players, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen, were a combined 7 of 22 from the field, it was Valanciunas who owned the paint as he led 5 Raptor players in double figures and proved almost unstoppable all night against an outmanned Hawks front court.

Despite the rough start to this season, Atlanta entered Wednesday’s contest playing some of its best basketball of the year.  The Hawks were winners of 4 of 6 coming into the contest with impressive wins over Utah, New Orleans, and San Antonio.  Improved health had been a key to the Hawks’ recent success as several key contributors made their way back to the lineup following time away with various injuries. Tonight, however, the Hawks faced a much tougher task in their visitors from the north.  The Raptors made their way to Atlanta in the thick of the race for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.  Cleveland’s recent struggles combined with Boston’s inability to pull away from the field has fueled the increased interest in the Raptors.  Head Coach Dwayne Casey has done a masterful job of adopting Toronto’s style of play to compete with the power teams in the conference and his team wasted no time in imposing their will on the Hawks. An 11-0 run towards the middle of the first quarter set the tone for the game early.  Valanciunas contributed 10 first-quarter points to kick-start the Toronto offense but it was the Raptors defense that proved just as impressive: holding Atlanta scoreless during close to a 2-minute span near the end of the period.

Hawk defenders challenge a shot.
Credit: Seattle PI

Much of Toronto’s success was due to the play and activity of the Raptor reserves.  Both teams found themselves “stuck in mud” during the 2nd period of play until the lesser known Raptors began to help extend the lead.  Baskets from Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, and Delon Wright sparked the 2nd quarter run that eventually put the game out of reach.  Kyle Lowry’s 3-point basket with 4:49 remaining in the half boosted the Toronto lead to 19 and probably most impressively, was Lowry’s first points of the game.  From that moment the Toronto lead quickly approached 20 points and would not venture far for the remainder of the contest.

Atlanta, on the other hand, found themselves in a difficult position.  For the first time in over a week, the Hawks were not playing very good basketball while trying to compete with a team motivated to take over the Eastern Conference.  Dennis Schroder proved to be the silver lining in the dark cloud that was the play of the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening.  Schroder scored 20 points on 8 of 19 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds.  Collins was able to gain valuable experience during the blowout.  The 5 for 13 shooting performance aside, Collins was active on both ends of the floor in gathering 16 rebounds.  The rookie, recently selected to play in the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend, has continued to show promise this season and should give Hawks fans something to cheer about for years to come.

Tonight, however, Atlanta may very well consider this a lesson learned and move forward.

 

Up Next:

Atlanta Hawks v. Charlotte Hornets

Friday, January 26, 2018

Spectrum Center

Charlotte, North Carolina

7 pm

 

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