Los Angeles (dpa) – The heavyweight matchup between the Eastern Conference-best was a mismatch.
Lou Williams hit seven triples en route to 26 points against his former team, DeMar DeRozan added 21 Friday, leading the visiting Toronto Raptors to a 105-80 beatdown of the East-best Atlanta Hawks.
“It means a lot beating the Hawks, especially because they’re the number one team in the East,” DeRozan said.
All-Stars Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague had just 11 points apiece to pace Atlanta, which shot a season-low 33 per cent from the field and committed 25 turnovers leading to 30 Toronto points.
“Give Toronto a lot of credit, they gave it to us good tonight,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Tonight wasn’t our night but I think their defence had something to do with it.”
The Hawks headed to the All-Star break winners in 35-of-37, including a 19-game winning streak. But they couldn’t shake the rust from an eight-day layoff.
“I don’t think we ever got into a rhythm,” Korver said. “There were a lot of excuses – put it on the break. We’ve had a long layoff and hopefully that was the reason.”
Ahead by four at halftime, the Raptors turned to their defence and used dominant 28-13 third-quarter to open up a 77-58 cushion, as the Hawks missed 16-of-19 field goals and all eight 3-point attempts.
“Our defence really picked up at the start of the third quarter,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “Our guys came out and dug in.”
The gap grew to as many as 35 in the final frame and the Raptors (37-17) moved within 5.5 games of the Hawks (43-12) for East supremacy.