Raptors, Hawks in search of post-break victories


The Toronto Raptors hope to rebound from a dismal loss when they visit the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night in a matchup of teams looking for their first win since the All-Star break.

The Raptors never led and trailed by as many as 41 points Friday night against the host Charlotte Hornets in losing 125-93 in their return from the break.

“We just didn’t have a lot of pop or zip or focus,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

Fred VanVleet (eight points), Pascal Siakam (eight) and Gary Trent Jr. (12) did not play in the fourth quarter. Scottie Barnes scored a career-best 28 points.

The Hawks also lost their first game after the break, 112-108, to the host Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

“We have to execute at the end,” said Bogdan Bogdanovic, who scored 27 points for the Hawks. “We shouldn’t miss this many free throws, starting with me. Small details against good teams decide the game.”

The Hawks finished 18-for-27 (66.7 percent) from the foul line against the Bulls.

The Raptors have won both games between the teams this season, most recently 125-114 in Toronto on Feb. 4.

The Hawks are in a key part of their schedule. After the Raptors, Atlanta plays at the surging Boston Celtics, hosts the Bulls again before a road game at Washington.

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“It’s a tough stretch, and we know that,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said.

“There’s pressure in every game from here on out,” said Kevin Huerter. “Obviously, we need wins. We’re not looking at the next four, we’re looking at the next one. …

“We’re fine. We’ve got no more time to dig ourselves holes. I think we’ve done that a couple times this year, lost four or five games in a row, or we put ourselves in a pretty bad position. We don’t have time to do that, but if we can stack wins and put together a streak or two to end the season, we’re going to be right there in the mix where we need to be.”

Atlanta will need a better game Saturday from Trae Young, who shot 3-for-17 from the field and made four turnovers against the Bulls on Thursday. He finished with 14 points and 10 assists.

“I’m really mad,” Young said. “I let my teammates down because we fought hard and still had a chance to win the game, but if I shoot like that, it’s tough for us to win.”

The Hawks have played the past four games without John Collins, who has a strained right foot.

The Raptors were without OG Anunoby on Friday because of an undisplaced fracture of his right ring finger. He will be out indefinitely. He was experiencing discomfort with his finger before the All-Star break and when it did not improve, he had an X-ray.

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“I think it’s been proven that he can probably play through it,” Nurse said. “But I think we need somebody to assure him, or us, of that to make sure that is the case or maybe someone can heal it fast so we can get back and go from there.”

Nurse said Siakam had flu-like symptoms (non-COVID) before the game but decided to play through it.

VanVleet had been questionable for the game as he continues to deal with knee soreness.

–Field Level Media



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