The Atlanta Hawks punched their ticket to the playoffs for the sixth straight season with a 107-88 rout over the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night.
There were plenty of doubters out there who thought the Hawks didn’t have a chance for the post-season this year after trading Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams — it feels great to shut them up.
Al Horford only had six points in the first half but exploded in the second half to lead the birds of prey with 26 points and 12 rebounds (both game-highs). Jeff Teague was sensational, scoring 24 points (on 9-of-15 shooting) with a game-high 13 assists. Josh Smith came up just short of posting his fourth straight 20-point game, which would have been his longest streak of the season, finishing with 19.
Ivan Johnson and John Jenkins were great off the bench. Jenkins only played 11 minutes but did damage hitting all four of his shots, including a long-range bomb, for nine points to go with three boards and two assists. Johnson also scored nine points, on four-of-five shooting, and had six rebounds (four offensive), four assists and one steal. He had the best +/- while on the court with 30 net points for the Hawks in 34 minutes of action.
Toronto controlled the lead for much of the first half and went on an 11-3 run at the end of the second quarter to take a 10-point advantage into halftime.
The Hawks briefly took the lead in the third quarter when Horford’s bucket at the 4:58 mark put them up 68-67. However, the Raptors reclaimed the edge 25 seconds later after Rudy Gay hit a 14-footer. Both teams traded baskets down the stretch and Josh Smith sank a pair of free-throws to tie the game at 75 heading into the fourth quarter.
That’s when Atlanta exploded.
Midway through the fourth, Horford and Teague combined for a 16-0 run with Teague pouring in the final nine points of the spurt by draining three straight triples to give the Hawks a commanding 97-80 lead with 4:22 left to play.
They cruised down the stretch and John Jenkins nailed a 3-pointer to seal the playoff-clinching victory 107-88.