Published March 23, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors came close to knocking off one of the league's best and will get back to work Sunday afternoon versus the Atlanta Hawks at Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors are coming off Friday night's 119-118 double-overtime loss to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the great white north. Durant, the NBA's leading scorer at 32.2 points per game, poured in 51 on 15-of-32 shooting and nailed the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left.
"We couldn't go to another overtime," said Durant. "I had to live with whatever happened. I wasn't trying to go to another overtime. (I) pulled up for it, it looked good when it left my hands. That was the craziest game I've ever been a part of."
Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan's heave at the buzzer was off the mark. He ended with 33 points and Amir Johnson added 25 and 12 rebounds. Kyle Lowry also scored 25 points and Greivis Vasquez chipped in 21 off the bench for the Raptors, who shot 41 percent and couldn't put away an OKC squad that made only 39 percent of its shots.
Lowry has scored at least 19 points in eight straight games, averaging 22.3 points in that time. DeRozan is posting 25.3 points in his last 12 games.
Toronto has lost three of four games since winning five of six, and is winless in its last two home games. The Raptors have a 20-14 mark at Air Canada Centre and own a 1 1/2-game lead on Brooklyn for the Atlantic Division lead. They are currently third in the East standings -- just percentage points ahead of Chicago.
After hosting the Hawks, Toronto, which is 15-6 at home since Jan. 1, will play two straight and four of five games on the road. The Raptors have not lost back-to-back games at home since a three-game slide from Nov. 27-Dec. 1.
The Hawks hope another losing streak isn't on the horizon after having a five- game winning streak cut short with Friday's 111-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Atlanta's winning streak came on the heels of a six-game skid. Pelicans forward Anthony Davis was too much with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting and he also pulled down 11 rebounds. Jeff Teague paced the Hawks with 26 points and Paul Millsap added 20 in defeat.
Shelvin Mack netted 18 points for the Hawks. Mack started in place of Kyle Korver, who missed the contest due to back spasms. Korver is questionable Sunday.
"I'm a professional athlete and you got to stay ready," said Mack on starting in place of Korver. "You never know when your name is going to be called. Just try to come out and play hard."
The Hawks have an 11-24 record on the road this season and are eighth in the East standings -- three games ahead of hard-charging New York.
Atlanta is 2-1 against the Raptors this season and posted a 118-113 overtime triumph on Tuesday at Philips Arena. Millsap recorded his first career triple- double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in that one, as the Hawks improved to 15-4 in the last 19 games in this series.
The Hawks have won seven of the last nine trips to Toronto.