Game Notes: Hawks at Raptors
Bosh wins it in jumpshot mode.
by Tariq Sbiet/ @tsbiet
The Raptors, losers of their last five needed a desperate win in their first game back from a frustrating four-game road swing. The teams defence seemed to have taken a step backward in allowing over 100 points in each of their last five losses and Toronto found themselves back at the bottom of the standings, still hanging by a thread to the 8th and final playoff seed. The only good news for the Raps in all this is Chi Town (currently sitting at 9th spot in the East) is also plummeting, losing eight straight!
ATL on the other hand is feeling great after a New Jersey spanking, with Jamal Crawford netting 25 points on 11-18 shooting. But the Hawks were without all-star Joe Johnson, meaning Crawford had to be big tonight…that he was.
“My teammates have shown a lot of confidence in me and from that I’ve been able to play really good, so it’s a credit to all the guys around me,” said Crawford.
Although Atlanta has handed the dinos some lop-sided losses this season, (146-115 & 111-89)Crawford didn’t underestimate the struggling Raptors and admits it’s never an easy win.
“Not at all, it’s a dangerous game. It’s a team that’s struggling; they’re looking for anything to get them going. I’ve been following them from a far, like I follow every other team and they’re desperate for a win especially in front of their home crowd,” said Crawford.
Right out of the gate, the Hawks opened up a 7-0 run beginning with a three-ball from Mike Bibby followed by two uncontested field goals. The Raptors looked sluggish, and the Air Canada Centre let em` have it on their way into the huddle after an immediate time-out.
Coach Triano must’ve said something motivational as the Raps answered with a 21-5 run. Andrea Bargnani came out with two aggressive moves in the paint and looked to send a message inside.
It looked like a circus around the 4 minute mark with multiple chances to score for Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu from point blank range, there was a lot of contact but no call. This sequence ended fittingly with Jamal Crawford in transition going behind the back, and then pulling up for a short jumper.
That same behind the back jumper was used several times successfully throughout the course of the game.
“That’s something I’ve been working on my whole life, I’m just using it more now. I used to use the front cross over in the earlier part of my career; now I switched it up…it’s a patented move for me now,” explained Crawford.
Crawford really amazes me every time he steps onto the floor with his flashy but efficient style of play, and he didn’t disappoint on this night. JC went for 33 points on 14-25 shooting (9 in the quarter) and kept the game within striking distance at the end of the first Q: 30-25 Raptors.
DeRozan and Bargnani led the Raps with 12 and 11 respectively. Crawford and Bibby carried the load for Atlanta with 9 and 8.
You can always count on Amir Johnson who has probably been the second best player (behind Bosh) this season on the Raptor squad with regards to consistency. Immediately, Johnson affects the game with his constant energy on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he rebounds like he`s possessed and is strong and physical so he was able to contain Atlanta`s bigs. On offense he is not shy either, any production though is a bonus for Toronto at this point.
Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford continued his offensive attack with pull up jumpers and penetration.
After Josh Smith picked up a technical with 4 minutes left in the half, ATL huddled up to regroup and retain composure. This seemed to do the trick as it got them right back into the game.
Just when it looked like the Raptors were running away with it after building a 15 point lead, the Hawks went on an 18-6 run to trim down their deficit to three: 53-50
It didn`t look like the Raptors had any answers for Crawford as he continued to score from everywhere on the floor and ended the half with 22 points.
Although only 4 points for Chris Bosh at the half, CB4 reached yet another milestone with the Raptors, eclipsing 10,000 points! Congrats Chris!
Halftime score: 59-56
The teams traded buckets to open the third frame, except it was Atlanta who was benefitting off of the 3-ball as opposed to two points each time for Toronto. After chipping away on Toronto`s 15 point lead throughout the second quarter, ATL found themselves leading by 6 midway through the third thanks to Bibby`s hot shooting and of course the show Crawford was putting on. Bibby has been stroking it at 38 percent this season from 3-point land. At this point, he was perfect, shooting 4-4 from distance.
With an Inactive Joe Johnson, Crawford really stepped up to the plate and showed his leadership; carrying the Hawks and inflating any momentum T-dot attempted to muster up.
“He’s brought veteran leadership and offense to our team but he’s done it in a way that I can kind of compare to flip Murray who we had last year,” said Coach Mike Woodson. “
“Flip was like our designated scorer off our bench last year. But he didn’t do it at a high level like Jamal is doing it this year. Jamal is probably a better scorer than him, but that’s not to take anything away from Flip, he helped us win 47 games last year.”
“But Jamal has been huge in terms of following the game plan. When he first came here he was shaky and walking on egg shells, he didn’t want to disrupt anything. At the end I sat down and spoke and told him ‘go out and lead the League in scoring off the bench, try and get the sixth man award’, there’s nothing wrong with that and he’s doing that. He’s definitely in running for sixth man award and he’s leading off the bench.”
What a luxury to have a guy of his calibre come off the pine.
At the end of third, Toronto was down by 11 and the boo birds began peeking out.
End of third: 75-86
With the threat of the Raps losing streak growing to 6, Triano`s troops came out strong in the transition scoring 4 unanswered, trimming the lead to 7 and forcing a quick time out by Coach Mike Woodson.
After that, Crawford did his thing to silence the crowd once again.
Maurice Evans also provided a nice spark off the bench nailing four triples for the game (4-5 3P) and 16 points.
With an 8 point lead for the Hawks and a timeout called by Woodson with 6:18 left in the game, it was the Raps last chance to make something happen.
What happens you ask?
Turkoglu drives left and puts it up with his right for the hoop and the harm, cutting the lead down to five. Hedo quietly gathered 16 points on 5-12 shooting.
Toronto kept it aggressive in the fourth, putting Atlanta in the penalty with 4 minutes to go.
Now down 7, Il Mago hits from deep to ignite the Toronto faithful and bring them within striking distance 97-101.
Time out for T.O: 97-103 with 2:29 left in the game.
Here we go!
The Penalty situation took CB4 to the line and he connected on both: 99-103. After a defensive stop, Sonny Weems sinks a baseline jumper and the ACC erupts, it`s a 2-point contest.
Al Horford makes two big plays, hitting a jumper and then blocking Bosh on the defensive end.
It’s 103-105, with 23 seconds in the game. The last time Toronto was in this situation at home was against Cleveland, when Triano elected to put the ball in the hands of Hedo Turkoglu. Let`s just say that didn`t work out too well.
Let`s see what happens here…
I am shocked; Hedo is once again called upon, drives left and is fouled. He hits 1 of 2 but T-dot gets very lucky as Marvin Williams steps out of bounds on the rebound. It is St. Patty`s day, so you could call it the luck of the Irish.
On the assuming possession, the Raptors are now down 104-105 and have left the game in the hands of the lone all-star on Toronto.
Bosh is on the baseline, he Jabs left, brings it back for a step back jumper and its money! OH MY BOSH!!! CB4 does what he`s been doing all season long, carrying his squad on those wiry shoulders.
Raptors win, Raptors win, Raptors win. Happy St. Patrick`s day!
– Jamal Crawford recorded a season high in points with 33 but needed 35 for the W.
– The USC product, DeMar DeRozan had one of his better games of the season with 19 and further showed the potential that lies within this rookie.
Although a bad shooting night, J-Smoove had a solid outing and near triple double: 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
Coach Mike Woodson on Josh Smith’s maturation and abilities:
“He’s been unbelievable. I met Josh six years ago and what Josh is today, it’s beautiful to watch. You sit there on the sideline and watch the maturity of a player, how he’s grown mentally, his passing, you talk about dribbling, shooting, blocking shots, getting on the floor for loose balls, taking charges, he does everything for our ball club.”
After being asked if it gives the team motivation when not mentioned among the League’s elite, Coach Woodson responded,
“We don’t deserve to be in that mix yet. Orlando was in the finals last year, Cleveland has won 60 something games, the Lakers are champions. We’re still learning how to win at a high level and to do that you have to win your division. You want to talk about that stuff then you go and win your division. Then you can talk about the Hawks.”
This was a huge victory for Toronto, snapping a 5-game losing streak by beating one of the top teams in the East. This win should also boost confidence in the locker room. Luckily for the Raptors, the Bulls continue to slide, with another loss to Dallas tonight, making it nine straight losses.