The Raptors finally got to Atlanta this late this morning and now have the tough task of beating the Hawks. Bargnani has struggled and has shown zero effort on D. Yet Jay Triano believes his team is improving on defence? If you don't get that you are not alone. Hawks have beat the Raptors twice already. A close loss back in Toronto but the Raps got torched here in Atlanta earlier in the season.
Al Horford an easy basket as Bargnani was out to lunch attempting to help on defence. Raps would get 2 straight scores and then allow the Hawks to do the same to them and it was 6-4 Hawks in the early going. But the Hawks run was not done it would stretch to an 8-0 run where Triano called a time out to praise his team for that improved defence. Maybe not. Demar DeRozan ended the run and then Al Horford schools Bargnani and it was a 10-2 run and a 12-6 Hawks lead. Raptors would claw back to 14-11 as Weems made a jumper....then on the break CABOOM the back is O.K and Raptors were down 1. But the Hawks would score a two then find Joe Johnson in the corner for a wide open 3. But the Weems show was kicking into gear another bucket and 3-4 shooting start and Raptors were behind 19-17. Demar DeRozan got banged up for the 2nd game in a row....and the Raptors were fighting on with out him for now but a Johnson 3 at the buzzer and Hawks led 28-24 after 1.
Crawford gets rolling now to start the second.The Hawks have a lot of Raptor Killers on their roster. Demar DeRozan checked back in that was good news. He had 2 fouls so that was more the reason he was out then injury perhaps. Hawks led 34-30 with Calderon and Johnson getting a breather. Bayless was in did the right thing and took a charge but paid the price and got up favouring his right knee a bit. Josh Smith meanwhile had back to back scores the latest a slam on the break and Hawks led 38-30. Demar's rough night continued picks up his 3rd foul and Jay Triano gets a rare tech on DeRozan foul call. Raptors were down 41-34. Calderon trying to create a spark with the drive and score and 1 to make it a 4 point game. But a Joe Johnson 3 and it was 48-41 Hawks. The Hawks were closing the half strong building the lead to 9. Raptors would be fortunate it would remain at 9 as Mike Bibby had 2 chances at three pointers and missed on both he was 0-5 on night a rare occurrence vs Toronto. But the rest of the Hawks were doing more than enough to take a 54-45 lead to the half.
Demar DeRozan back in with his 3 fouls and has instant impact with a drive and score. Raps got rolling off to a 6-0 start and a smart time out from Drew as his Hawks still lead 54-51. Make that a 10-0 run and Raptors lead 55-54. Cue Mike Bibby for 3 and he makes it this time. A slam off the steal and Hawks were back in charge. A bad 3 from Bargnani and another slam and the 1 point lead was a 6 point depict in the blink of an eye. Raptors were giving up 3's on D and Bargnani missed 2 shots inside of 3 feet. Hawks led 69-61. Raptors were hanging around but not really doing much that gave you the hope they could climb the mountain down 6 heading to the 4 with the score 75-69.
I mentioned earlier that Bayless had hurt his knee. He left the game and is not coming back with a sprained right knee. As for the Raptors coming back I am not optimistic with Hawks leading 84-77 with 7:45 to play. A Josh Smith slam after a Weems miss on a pull up mid range jumper and it was Hawks up 88-78 with 6 and change to play. Back to Back 3's and Bibby as he has in the past he nails the daggers to seal the Raptors fate. In the end the Hawks sweep the season series with a 100-87 win.
I could say a bunch of things but you have heard them all before. I am officially out of ways to describe losses. It is not like the story changes much. The Raptors have turned in to the real life version of the movie Groundhog Day.