“It was a good, bad game all in one,” said Pierce. “I thought our guys played well enough to win, we just couldn’t figure it out from an execution standpoint which is frustrating.”
The Atlanta Hawks suffer their second loss in a row to the Toronto Raptors 117-122, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in State Farm Arena.
The Hawks and Raptors went back and forth for most of the game with four lead changes and tying the game three times. Problems arose for the Hawk late in the third that led to a Raptors 21-point lead. Although the hawks fought back, the game was decided in the last 20 seconds by a shooting foul.
“It’s good to get a win, you got to get them any way you can, road games aren’t the easiest. This is our 5th game in 7 days,” said VanVleet, who had 20 points against the Hawks.
The Raptors came to Atlanta on a three-game win streak, defeating the Timberwolves on the road 122-112 only two days prior. The defending National Champions, are 3rd in the Eastern Conference, ten games behind the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We have been there before, and just get through the game and get out of here with a win,” said VanVleet. “Our team is really deep, so we have a lot of guys who can step up. You saw tonight that there was a lot of back and forth. Norman just exploded off the bench that gave us that separation. You need guys like that.”
Norman Powell came off the bench late in the third quarter and within two minutes of playing became a threat for the Hawks from the 3-point line and went 7-7 from the free-throw line. Powell led the Raptors in scoring with 27 points.
“No matter who we are out there with, it’s always about playing together,” said Raptors Shooting Guard, Norman Powell. “We did a great job as a unit defensively, picking up our energy and getting stops, which just fueled our offense and lead us to making shots.”
Atlanta Head Coach Lloyd Pierce was disappointed with the way the fourth quarter of the game went that ultimately led to the Hawks loss.
“It’s just where we are. [It’s] fourth quarter execution, we give up a 6-0 run,” he said. “Just not managing the the game or managing the approach to the game in the fourth. Even with the effort from the comeback, it’s just frustrating.”
The Hawks young squad were competitive through most of the game and were able to hold the Raptors to 57 points in the first half and came back from the half and led by as many as nine. Trae Young proves he is an All-Star Candidate and puts up his 10th Double-Double this season with 42 points, 6 rebounds and a career high 15 assists.
The Hawks slipped into familiar patterns late in the third quarter with fouls (34) and turnovers (24), giving up a 9-point lead. By the fourth quarter the Raptors had not only come back, but, created a 21-point hole the Hawks had to dig themselves out of. John Collins, who finished the game with a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, alongside Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter to bring the Hawks within 2 points with 34 seconds left in the game. The game was over though, when Collins committed an untimely shooting foul on VanVleet at the arc in very the next play
“Whether we’re on the winning side or the losing side, the games never over until it’s over,” said Hawks point guard Trae Young.” We’re one of the best teams in the league being down 15 [with] under three minutes and coming back. We just put ourselves in such a big hole, it’s hard to come back from.”
Young, a favorite for the All-Star Game in Chicago, recorded his seventh 40+ point game this season and became the first player in the NBA to compile 42 points and 15 assists while making 18 free throws in a game, according to Stats LLC.
The Hawks record moves to 10-34, putting them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 38 games left in the regular season. The Hawks return to State Farm Arena on Jan. 22 for PeachTree night to take on the LA Clippers at 7 p.m.