Raptors soar over Hawks

Toronto's DeMar Derozan shoots a jumper over Hawks guard Willie Green on Sunday at Atlanta....

Toronto's DeMar Derozan shoots a jumper over Hawks guard Willie Green on Sunday at Atlanta. (REUTERS)

Ryan Wolstat, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:20 PM ET

ATLANTA - Fresh off a shocking win over the Boston Celtics, the Raptors ended a six-game losing skid against the Hawks in a blowout of an encore on Sunday night, a 102-86 win.

DeMar DeRozan and D-League callups Alan Anderson and Ben Uzoh again made up for the absences of Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless.

DeRozan scored 23, Anderson 16 and Uzoh had 10 while holding Jeff Teague to two points and two assists.

The Hawks came in 11th in the league in opponent’s shooting percentage (.441), but allowed the undermanned visitors to go off at a .554 clip.

The Raptors matched last season’s win total of 22 by taking control in the second quarter, outscoring Atlanta 28-15, to take a 53-39 lead into the break. That edge was built largely because, aside from Josh Smith, Atlanta’s starters went just 1-for-12 from the field. Atlanta shot 1-for-9 from three in the opening half.

Though the Hawks pushed back in the third, Toronto withstood the run, opening the fourth on a 13-4 run of their own.

“Guys are just playing the right way and playing together, playing with a purpose,” said a noticeably pleased Dwane Casey afterwards.

“You’ve got guys that don’t want to go down without a fight.”

Atlanta came in on a four-of-five streak ahead of this home-and-home set but was out-hustled, outshot and outplayed by the gritty Raptors, turning the Philips Arena fans against them.

“They came in and spoiled our potential playoff (clinching) for us today,” Hawks guard Willie Green said.

“Give them a lot of credit. They played hard and they’re well-coached.”

Raptors forward James Johnson, who bounced back from a rough stretch with 15 points, said nobody on the team is packing it in.

“Our season has been up and down but we’re not just going to go out and just lay down and let teams beat us to give them better positioning,” he said.

The Toronto supporters hoping the Raptors lose every game from here on out this season might not like that attitude, but the franchise is also benefiting from what it is doing here down the stretch. The Raptors have been a league patsy for years — a soft, defensively-allergic franchise that nobody feared.

That’s starting to change. All that is missing is an influx of high-end talent. While winning these games might make adding those pieces more difficult, the NBA lottery is a total crapshoot anyways.

Since 1994, the worst or second-worst teams have only won the lottery five times. The fifth-place finishers have won four times, sixth, seventh and ninth once each.

After Sunday’s games, the Raptors slipped to a tie for sixth from the bottom.

DEROZAN ROLLING

DeRozan has really picked up his intensity and aggressiveness over the past month or so.

In the past, he would foray to the hoop, not get calls and complain. Eventually, he stopped doing that and now has the respect of NBA officials. It has become the norm to see the third-year guard shooting six to eight free throws a night and that’s something Casey wants to continue going forward.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

The Raptors need to make a call on Anderson and Uzoh.

Their second 10-day contracts expired on Sunday night, meaning the team now must either cut them loose or sign them for the rest of the season.

Justin Dentmon can be signed to a a second 10-day deal.

Casey likes what he has seen from the trio, crediting the point guards for their play against Boston and Anderson’s contributions overall.

“Alan has shown he belongs in the NBA and he’s done an above-average job for us,” Casey said.

“We’ll make a decision after the game … sometime (Monday).”

With Calderon not expected back until Wednesday in Miami — and even that might be reaching — and with Anderson excelling, look for all three to stick around as the season comes to a close.


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