Atlanta Hawks outgunned in loss to Toronto Raptors, 126-115


If you like points, you liked the Atlanta Hawks game against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

The Hawks were playing the second of back-to-back games over the last two days, and I fully expected them to look a little tired from a tough road win against the Washington Wizards the night before. For the first quarter, I got exactly what I expected. The Hawks looked flat defensively as they let the Raptors command the inside and the foul line. After the first quarter it was 34-24 Raptors, and it looked like we were on the way to a blowout.

But things are never as simple as they seem with this Hawks team. In the second quarter, the Hawks found their defensive legs and their three-point stroke. Dennis Schroder got the first triple, followed by Kyle Korver nabbing two, then Jeff Teague getting in on the act with his own three-ball, Korver again, and DeMarre Carroll to close it out. With the six three-pointers in the second quarter, the Hawks outscored the Raptors 37-30, and they cut the halftime deficit to just three points.

The problem for Atlanta was that Toronto seems to score at will. They average almost 107 points per game, and they continued to put pressure on the Hawks by nailing outside jumpers. In his return to Phillips Arena in an opposing uniform, Lou Williams looked especially sharp. By the end of the third quarter, Lou had 15 points in 17 minutes off the bench. He was a big difference maker in the game for Toronto, as he made a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to extend the Raptors lead back to three points, 91-88.

For the Hawks to win this game, they weren’t going to be able to get into a shooting war with Toronto. The only way they would get the victory would be to get inside on the Raptors, get to the line early on the bonus, and force a free-throw grinder battle that didn’t allow the Raptors to run and gun. The Hawks accomplished one part of that by getting into the bonus with 4:45 left in the game. However, Toronto just wouldn’t go away with the three pointers. Lou Williams was the biggest problem in that regard as he just kept making shots.

In the end, the Hawks just couldn’t stop the Raptors scoring onslaught, and what looked like a blowout on the scoreboard was a little closer than it seemed. I can say with certainty that if you give up 120 or more points to a team in regulation, you deserve to lose. The lack of defense is completely understandable since Atlanta was playing back-to-back games, but I still can’t forgive that many points. That’s just a complete defensive breakdown, and I think Coach Bud would agree it should never happen even if they were playing three games in a row.

Lou Williams gets my star of the game if only because I always liked Lou, even if he didn’t fit in the Atlanta system. He was the reason that Toronto pulled away in this game with his 22 points, 3 steals, and 2 assists. Jeff Teague had a great game with a double-double, 24 points and 12 assists. Al Horford was one rebound away from his own double-double with 23 points and 9 rebounds. The main problem was that Paul Millsap got into foul trouble early, so he wasn’t really effective, and outside of Dennis Schröder’s 13 points, the bench was only combined for 14 points across 4 players during an average of 12 minutes each. That’s simply not going to get it done.

The Atlanta Hawks take Thanksgiving off on Thursday before hosting the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. The fresh legs should help as the Hawks see their third team in a row with a winning record. Don’t miss it!