The Atlanta Hawks blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead and collapsed down the stretch as the Raptors rallied in the final minutes to earn a 96-86 comeback victory in Toronto on Sunday.
The Raptors outscored Atlanta 35-16 in the fourth quarter and ended the game on a 15-2 run to secure the win.
Dynamic point guard Kyle Lowry powered Toronto with 13 of his team-high 25 points in the last period, including the final seven points of the game to seal the comeback bid.
DeMar DeRozan poured in 21 points and center Jonas Valanciunas posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while backup point guard Greivis Vasquez (12) and Terrence Ross (10) were also in double-figures.
Atlanta was in control for practically the entire game, establishing a small edge in the first three minutes of the opening quarter and holding that advantage throughout the game until the 5:18 mark in the fourth period when the Raptors leveled the score 79-79.
Jeff Teague and DeRozan traded buckets, then Paul Millsap drained a big 3-pointer to put the Hawks up 84-81 with 3:51 remaining, but then Lowry ignited the home squad and carried the team to victory by scoring nine of Toronto’s final 15 points down the stretch to earn an impressive comeback win.
Millsap and DeMarre Carroll led Atlanta with 17 points each, while Teague tallied 16. No other Hawks player scored more than 8 points (Mike Scott). Backup point guard Shelvin Mack started at shooting guard in place of the injured Kyle Korver and finished with seven points and zero assists.
This was a crucial game for Atlanta as they are clinging onto the final playoff spot in the East by a slim 2.5 game margin over the surging New York Knicks.
The Knicks host the Cavaliers later Sunday night and could possibly shrink Atlanta’s lead to only two games by morning with a win over Cleveland.
The Hawks will have a quick turnaround and return home immediately to host the Suns Monday night.