Toronto Raptors (106) Atlanta Hawks (105) Game Recap

As the saying goes nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. That statement probably describes this game better than any words that I can put in this recap. The Hawks started on a 7-0 run, immediately turned around and allowed the Raptors to go on a 21-5 run, and then dug themselves out of a double figure deficit to trail 59-56 at the half. That late run t half was sparked by an jawing match between Josh Smith and Jose Calderon after Smith fouled him. Smith was awarded a technical foul for his part (Calderon doesn’t get one?) but Calderon missed two of the three free throws and the Hawks went on a run to cut the lead to three at the half.

The Hawks completely took control of this game in the third quarter leading by as many as ten before allowing the Raptors to inch back in. Jamal Crawford was basically unstoppable in the third on his way to a game high 33 points. The Hawks smothering defense was giving the Raptors fits particularly that of Chris Bosh. Josh Smith took a charge on Bosh that sent him to bench with his fourth foul about midway through the third period. Up to that point he had been basically non existent in the game. Which got me to thinking about something that hawksdawgs over at Peachtree Hoops pointed out:

Of note, and it is neither my idea nor a new idea nor an entirely thought out idea, but is it odd to anyone else that Bosh automatically is part of the 2010 max contract club? His stats are incredible. He is surely not the problem for the Raptors, but don’t you want a max contract guy to be more than not the problem, but an actual problem solver? Anyway, I apologize in advance for Bosh’s 40 point, 20 rebound game tonight.

Up until the end of the game I was wondering about this statement. Bosh seemed reluctant to drive the basketball at Al Horford or Josh Smith and seemed perfectly happy with tossing up long jump shots for most of the night. Throughout the game I was getting ready to chronicle his struggles in my game recap but that became a moot point when his game winning jumper went in with 2.1 seconds left in the game. Not saying that the things that I mentioned aren’t valid concerns but this blogger isn’t going to talk about them anymore today. He might have struggled the whole game but he made the play that ultimately doomed the Hawks.

It would be easy to point out that the Raptors were desperate for a win and the Hawks were ending albeit a short road trip without their best player. To write this game off as that though would be to make excuses and we are not about to make excuses for them in this game. The Hawks simply did not execute down the stretch. Two uncontested layups to start the fourth quarter cut a thirteen point lead to nine and prompted the Hawks to take a quick time out.

There is no excuse for a team like the Raptors to out rebound the Hawks under any circumstance and on this night they held a 46-42 advantage and a 12-7 on the offensive end. Those rebounds led to thirty one fast break points for the Raptors and a thirty to eighteen advantage in free throw attempts.

This statement again by Hawksdawgs at Peachtree Hoops pretty much sums up the Hawks final possession of the game:

Still, Atlanta was simply not patience enough on a few key possessions down the stretch. With under 35 seconds left, Jamal went to feed Horford in the post and after no more than a second, Jamal could not stand running a real play and he drove the baseline. A few passes later, Josh Smith missed a runner in the lane. The next time the Hawks got the ball back was with two seconds to go. Atlanta does not normally need patience down the stretch. They give the ball to a guard and spread the floor. Tonight, they had the opportunity to do something different and realized they don’t know how.

Without Joe Johnson available no one wanted to take the shot. Jamal would have but he was smothered. No one else stepped up when given the opportunity. It should have never came to that. The Hawks should have been able to rebound a missed Turkoglu free throw, should have been able to get a stop down the stretch but for whatever reason didn’t. That ultimately cost them the game.

The team returns home on Friday to take on the Bobcats in a potential first round playoff preview. I say potential because it seems the East playoff picture is changing daily. Hopefully Joe Johnson will be healthy, rested and ready to go.

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