Raptors playoff chances take a hit

The Atlanta Hawks reached a long-awaited milestone in their steady climb under coach Mike Woodson.

Toronto Raptor Sonny Weems puts up a shot over Atlanta Hawk Mike Bibby during Atlanta’s 107-101 win Friday in Atlanta.

Toronto Raptor Sonny Weems puts up a shot over Atlanta Hawk Mike Bibby during Atlanta’s 107-101 win Friday in Atlanta.

Hawks 107 Raptors 101

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks reached a long-awaited milestone in their steady climb under coach Mike Woodson.

Jamal Crawford scored 15 of his 25 points when Atlanta took the lead in the second period, and the Hawks beat the Toronto Raptors 107-101 on Friday night to reach 50 wins for the first time in 12 years.

“We were able to accomplish something this year we haven’t done in a long time,” said Josh Smith, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

The Hawks (50-29) moved one game ahead of Boston in the race for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics suffered a 106-96 loss to Washington.

Amir Johnson had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Toronto, which remains tied with Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls suffered a 127-116 double-overtime loss to New Jersey.

The Bulls visit Toronto on Sunday.

“It’s like a playoff game already,” said Toronto’s Sonny Weems, who had 18 points.

The Raptors suffered their fourth straight loss.

“It ain’t going our way, man,” Weems said. “It’s crazy.”

Woodson, in his sixth season, has led the team to improved records in five straight seasons since 13 wins his first year. And he called the 50-win season was “long overdue.”

“We can’t be happy and content,” Woodson said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We still have three more regular-season games, and then we’ve got to start getting geared up for the playoffs.”

The Hawks finished fourth in the conference last season with 47 wins and lost to Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs.

The Hawks were sluggish in the opening minutes, matching their season low for points in a first quarter when they trailed 25-14. They rebounded to score a season-high 45 points in the second quarter for a 59-47 halftime lead.

Joe Johnson had 18 points in his return after missing three games with a sprained right thumb.

“We’ve come a long way since I’ve been here,” said Johnson, in his fifth season in Atlanta. “After 50 wins, we want to go on and win the championship.”

Al Horford had 12 points and 15 rebounds for Atlanta.

“I don’t think we’re peaking yet, but I think we’re playing well,” Horford said. “It would be good if these last three games we close it out and start playing the way we should.”

Toronto coach Jay Triano said the Raptors were hurt by Atlanta’s 13 second-chance points in the second period.

“That was the difference,” Triano said. “You can’t give this team second opportunities, and we just didn’t box out.”

Jose Calderon had 10 points and 10 assists for Toronto.

Toronto backup guard Antoine Wright was helped off the floor after spraining his left ankle with 10 seconds remaining in the third period. Wright missed a three-pointer and, after taking the jump shot, his left foot landed on Atlanta guard Mario West’s foot. Wright did not return.

Toronto’s Hedo Turkoglu wore a protective facial mask after bumping heads with Boston’s Tony Allen and leaving Wednesday night’s game. The Raptors already have lost top scorer and rebounder Chris Bosh for the remainder of the regular season with a facial fracture.

“It’s going to be tough, we know that, down a couple guys,” Triano said. “But what are you going to do? We’ve got to play as hard as we can, and I thought we did that.”

Following a 42-42 tie in the second period, the Hawks pulled away with a 24-5 run that was capped by Mike Bibby scoring the first five points of the second half for a 64-47 lead.

Crawford hit four three-pointers in the second period.

NOTES: Atlanta reached 50 wins for the first time since the 1997-98 season. … Triano took the high road when asked about the Cavaliers resting LeBron James for Thursday night’s game against the Bulls. The Bulls won the game. “They don’t owe us anything,” Triano said. … The Hawks have won 11 straight home games. … Attendance at Philips Arena was 19,382.

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