Raptors have no answer for Hawks

With their game against Toronto on the line, the Atlanta Hawks ran one of their favourite plays.

Hawks 104 Raptors 101

TORONTO — With their game against Toronto on the line, the Atlanta Hawks ran one of their favourite plays.

The Raptors had no answer for it.

Mike Bibby took a pass form Jamal Crawford stepped up and hit a three-pointer with 8.2 seconds to play to give the Atlanta Hawks a 102-101 lead and they held off the Toronto Raptors for a 104-101 victory on Wednesday.

“It was a good play,” Bibby said. “Jamal, Smoove (Josh Smith) and Al (Horford) set up good screens and got me open. Jamal made a nice pass.”

It’s not the first time the Hawks (26-14) have ran a play to get Bibby open late in the game.

“We did that against the Clippers (on Jan. 2),” Crawford said. “Mike has hit so many big shots in his career and we feel comfortable putting him in that position and he is very comfortable being in that position.”

It was a heart-breaking loss for the 14,186 fans in attendance as the Raptors (13-25) overcame Atlanta’s five-point half time lead to take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter.

They still led when Bibby hit the 25-foot jump shot that put Atlanta back into the lead. Crawford also provided 36 points in scoring coming off the bench and Joe Johnson added 26 for Atlanta.

Raptors coach Jay Triano had the defence he wanted on the court with Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon tasked with contesting Bibby’s shot.

“It’s a play that they run,” Triano said.

“It’s a tough play. We don’t want to get stuck going in the middle. Amir came up on the one side. Jose came up on the other side. Both guys were right there challenging him. It wasn’t like we didn’t guard it. We guarded it and he makes a tough shot.”

Andrea Bargnani and Leandro Barbosa each had 26 points for the Raptors.

The Raptors had two chances to score at the end but Calderon couldn’t penetrate the defence on a drive the first time on his attempted layup and no foul was called. Atlanta was awarded the ball after the officials reviewed a replay.

After Joe Johnson hit two free throws with a second left, Bargnani missed a three-pointer in attempt for the tie to force overtime at the buzzer.

Amir Johnson put the Raptors into a 101-99 lead with 45.6 seconds left on a running layup from Calderon’s pass then made the ensuing free throw.

The Hawks missed on three shots — Joe Johnson on a 14-foot pull-up jumper, Josh Smith on a layup and Crawford on a 23-foot jump shot.

But with 10.5 seconds left, Amir Johnson who had a block during the previous sequence with 38.1 seconds left was called on an offensive foul.

“The illegal screen, I guess it was a good call,” Johnson said. “The guy fell and it was a flash screen so it could have gone either way. It was a tough call. There were a lot of mistakes throughout the game, everybody had their part but it was a tough call.”

That gave the Hawks the ball, and Bibby’s shot came after a timeout.

Crawford got the Hawks going early with 25 points in the first half.

“We had a hard time stopping their scorers,” Triano said. “Crawford got it going a bit and we went to the zone a lot in the second half and we were able to slow them down. When you’re in the zone you are sometimes susceptible to outside shots and our zone was extremely effective.”

Triano said Calderon was given the chance on the second-last possession because “we knew he would have a bigger guy on him.”

“And usually you use your quickness to get by them,” Triano said. “At that point we thought we might have a call against them. You have to attack the big guy and we couldn’t do it.”

Then with no time to set up much, Bargnani was given the shot for the attempted three.

“We just figured if they had a smaller guy on (Bargnani) with his size we could throw it high, catch it high, and get rid of it,” Triano said. “One spin, one second. You don’t really have much for anything else in that situation.”

Notes: Sonny Weems who missed 11 consecutive games with back spasms dressed for Wednesday’s game but did not play. … Severe weather conditions in the Atlanta area forced the Hawks to postpone their scheduled game Tuesday against the Bucks until March 15. …DeMar DeRozan, who had nine points, is the only Raptor to start in all 38 games this season. …The Hawks won 96-78 on Nov. 28 in their previous visit to Toronto. …Toronto concludes its three-game home stand Friday against Detroit.

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