Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 27 points as the Hawks built a
29-point halftime lead and routed the Raptors 117-92 Monday night.
Toronto had played the previous day, losing to Utah at home, and
had only nine players in uniform.
"You've got to have that killer mentality,'' Atlanta center
Theo Ratliff said. "We've let a couple of teams come back on us.
We've let a couple of wins slip away.''
No chance of that happening on this night. The Hawks began to
pull away with a 10-0 run to close the first quarter, then ran
circles around the shorthanded Raptors to push the margin to 66-37
at the break.
Abdur-Rahim scored 15 points in the opening quarter and got to
watch the entire final period from the bench as the Hawks got some
lesser-used players on the court. He has averaged 28 points over
the past four games, the last three to lead Atlanta victories.
"I just think we came out with a lot of energy, we got after
them defensively, shut them off offensively, ran, got a lot of
baskets,'' Abdur-Rahim said.
The Hawks scored 15 first-half baskets off dunks, layups and
tips, leading to an astonishing 38-8 edge on points in the lane.
The Hawks also outrebounded the Raptors 29-11 and scored 25 points
off turnovers before halftime.
Toronto's helplessness was epitomized when Hawks backup center
Amal McCaskill, who had not scored all season, got several tips at
a missed shot before the ball finally dropped through. The Raptors
looked like a bunch of schoolchildren trying futilely to get the
ball away from the tallest kid in class.
To make matters worse, the Raptors even returned for the third
quarter to find they had two fewer points than when they went to
the locker room. The officials used instant replay to take away a
basket from Alvin Williams, ruling that he got off a driving shot
after the buzzer.
"We started out OK, but they got off to a great run,'' said
Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens, whose team needed an injury exemption
from the NBA just to have nine healthy players. "We then lost
confidence. We didn't believe in ourselves.''
Toronto had won six consecutive games against the Hawks,
including a 112-73 rout at the end of last season that was the
biggest victory in Raptors history.
Atlanta remembered that one.
"They beat us bad last year,'' Jason Terry said. "We wanted to
jump on them early.''
By the end, the Hawks got to clear their bench. Chris Crawford
played for the first time since Nov. 10, 2001 -- a span of 84 games
-- after coming back from a torn ligament in his left knee.
"I'm just excited to get back out there,'' said Crawford, who
scored two points, blocked a shot and had two turnovers. "It's
been a long process.''
Also, first-round draft pick Dan Dickau went much of the fourth
quarter after playing only 1 minute in the previous five games.
"You're going to have games like that,'' Lenard said. "You
want to forget about that one as soon as possible.''
The Hawks were 15-for-16 from the free-throw line. ... The
Raptors dropped to 3-4 since Vince Carter went out with a
quadriceps injury. ... The crowd was just 6,374 -- the smallest
since the Hawks moved to Philips Arena in 1999. ... The Hawks (6-4)
will host Minnesota on Wednesday, hoping to move to three games
above .500 for the first time since the end of the 1998-99 season.
... Atlanta's last victory over Toronto was Jan. 31, 2001.
Erik Spoelstra, who twice has led the Heat to NBA titles, is nearing an extension with the team, a source said, confirming The Vertical's original report.
LeBron James has elected to opt out of his contract with the Cavaliers that would have paid him $24 million next season.
The San Antonio Spurs have been notified that Tim Duncan has exercised his player option for the 2016-17 season, but that he is still undecided about whether to return for a 20th NBA season.