Atlanta Hawks drop season opener to Toronto Raptors


The NBA season for the Atlanta Hawks opened in Canada against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. The Hawks were coming back with a very similar roster to 2013, but with a large reinsertion of Al Horford back in the lineup coming off his season-ending injury. Also, the Hawks added a couple of bench guards in Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore. All of them would see some time during the night, with varying results. Unfortunately, the Hawks couldn’t come up with enough late offense to outscore the Raptors as they lost the game by a final of 109-102.

First quarter action opened with a flurry by the Raptors that saw them jump out to a quick 11-5 lead. The Hawks were struggling early to make shots, but they found their rythym later in the quarter with the help of Mike Scott coming in off the bench for five first quarter points. Also, I could sense that Al Horford was still trying to get back into the flow of the game as he missed some early buckets, but he managed to sink two in the quarter and grab a couple of rebounds. All in all, it wasn’t a bad start for the Hawks as they trailed on the road 24-22 after the first period.

Kyle Korver was the go-to man in the second quarter with his brand of deep shooting. The three-point machine picked up right where he left off last season as he tickled the twine three times for triples in a two-minute span. The problem was the Hawks got themselves in foul trouble very early in the quarter, and Toronto was in the bonus with about six minutes left before the half. Not to mention the Raptors were doing some three-point firing of their own to stave off the Hawks rallies.

At the end of the half, the Hawks found themselves in a 60-52 hole, mostly due to free throws. The Hawks only made 6 of their 11 freebies, while the Raptors netted 13-for-15. That seven-point swing made up the majority of the eight-point difference at the intermission. In all honesty, the Hawks looked a lot better on the court than an eight point hill would indicate. The major issue was that Al Horford still had only four points going into the locker room, and that’s not good enough from the team’s best player. Atlanta would have to remedy that in the second half to have much of a chance.

In the second half, the Hawks seemed to lack any sort of rhythm that would give them a chance at the lead. Things started to come unglued in the waning minutes of the third quarter, as Atlanta only managed 4 points in the final five minutes. With the deficit growing to 15 as the quarter closed, it was going to take a miracle fourth quarter to make much of a dent in the outcome.

No such miracle was coming. The Hawks hung around and cut the lead to four late, but it’s almost impossible to dig out of a double digit deficit in the final frame. On the plus side, you had the performances of Mike Scott, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver who combined for 60 of the Hawks points. On the downside, Atlanta had almost no production from the bench other than Mike Scott. The rest of the bit players only combined for seven total points. The Raptors also beat the Hawks on the offensive boards, and doubled their steals. It’s hard to win games that way.

Next up, the Atlanta Hawks have their home opener against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night at Philips Arena. It’s a revenge game from the playoffs last season! Make sure to tune in to see if the Hawks can make a quick rebound at home.