Toronto has been playing solid basketball of late — if you don’t bring a genuine effort against them you are in trouble.
Like getting blown out 113-96 kind of trouble, which is what happened to the Hawks on Tuesday night. The loss drops the Hawks to the six seed in the East, tied with the Bulls for the five seed but Chicago has the tiebreaker. If the Bulls win or the Hawks lose on Wednesday night, Chicago will finish in the five spot and face the Nets in the first round, the Hawks at six would get the Indiana Pacers.
Tuesday the Hawks looked like a team trying to avoid being on the Heat’s side of the playoff bracket (which they do as the six seed). Al Horford didn’t play and Josh Smith, Jeff Teague and Devin Harris played limited minutes.
The Hawks also looked like a team that shouldn’t worry about going deep enough in the playoffs to meet the Heat — the physical, defensive-minded Pacers are going to overwhelm the Hawks easily if Atlanta doesn’t bring a radically level of effort. Particularly on defense.
The question about the Raptors is just how efficient their offense will be on any given night with Rudy Gay leading the way, but against the lazy Hawks rotations they looked good.
Toronto took and early lead in this game and generally maintained a small lead through the first part of the second quarter, were able to stretch that out a little, sparked by a ridiculous Harris flagrant foul.
Toronto stretched that lead out to 68-51 at the half as Rudy Gay shot 7-of-10 while DeMar DeRozan hit 8-of-11. As a team they shot 66.7 percent in the first half (they went 5-of-9 from three). The Hawks came out playing with better energy in the third quarter but they couldn’t dig out of the big hole they were in. Then in the fourth the Raptors blew the lead out again.
DeRozan finished the game with 30 and DeRozan had 22.
We’ll see if the Hawks bring a different kind of effort on Wednesday, or if they like the idea of the Pacers and the six seed.
That’s just nasty.
Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.
Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.
Dwyane Wade still has some springs.
In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.
Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.
LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.
LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.
If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.
Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).
That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.
This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.
Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.
And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.