Weak effort leads to another loss for Raps

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:21 PM ET

The Raptors faced a couple foes of the avian variety Friday night, the Atlanta Hawks and, by late in the second quarter, the Air Canada Centre boo birds.

But, hey, the latter tend to come out when you allow the visiting team to shoot 52% from the field and score 89 points by the end of the third quarter.

In the end, the Hawks spanked Toronto 111-89, for the Raptors’ second loss in a row.

The defeat wasn’t quite as embarrassing as the 146-115 debacle Toronto suffered in Atlanta on Dec. 2, but it certainly was up there as one of the weaker efforts of the season, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.

The visiting Hawks out-hustling their hosts for much of the game, picking up 20 second-chance points to eight by Toronto. Power forward Chris Bosh chalked up to the loss to the fact that Atlanta is a better team than the Raptors, at least at this point in the season.

“It’s not disheartening. They beat us. Sometimes teams are better than you. They smoked us once. And they beat us again,” Bosh said. “But I believe this team is going to be good because I see the potential. We’re five games under .500. It could be worse. We could be 0-25. It’s not that bad. We still have a chance to improve and, at the end of the day, we’re going to be in a playoff race.

"The whole season isn’t going to be dictated off of two games.”

A major problem was also long-range shooting ... again. Heading into Friday night’s game, the Raptors had shot 29.7% (41-for-138) from three-point range the past seven games. Friday night, the Raptors shot 2-for-10 from beyond the arc, 0-for-6 in the first half. The Hawks, meanwhile, shot 9-for-18 from three-point range.

Still, Toronto’s NBA record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer remains intact at 885 games since Marco Belinelli hit a 23-foot jump shot with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.

Point guard Jarrett Jack started in place of Jose Calderon, who had missed the previous two games with a sore left hip. Calderon played seven minutes in the first half, but was unable to return in the second when he aggravated the injury.

Starting centre Andrea Bargnani also was back in the lineup after missing one game because of a sore right ankle. The Raptors clearly missed Calderon’s ball distribution. The Hawks finished with 25 assists to only 17 for Toronto.

None of Toronto’s starting five were outstanding, though Bargnani had 17 points (with three rebounds) and small forward Hedo Turkoglu had 12 points with seven rebounds and eight assists.

As for Bosh, it’s all relative. He recorded his NBA-leading 21st double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. He had averaged 25.8 points and 14 rebounds in his past four games.

Starting small forward DeMar DeRozan seems to be hitting the wall. After picking up only eight points on Wednesday in Milwaukee, the rookie managed just two Friday night, shooting 0-for-5 from the floor in 23 minutes.

Joe Johnson led the Atlanta attack with 20 points. The Hawks’ bench scored 55, with four players in double digits, while Toronto subs had 31.


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