Oh, it’s so nice to have NBA basketball in our lives.
A year ago tonight the sporting world came to a screeching halt when Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. We went months without any real sports and were forced to watch televised games of HORSE. Oh, those were dark times.
What the pandemic really deprived us of was games like Thursday night’s Atlanta Hawks 121-120 victory over the Toronto Raptors. A year into this COVID-19 pandemic, even losses like this shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Toronto clawed out of a 19-point first-half hole to mount a lead as big as 15 in the second half. Unfortunately for the Raptors, basketball is, as they say, a game of runs, and the Hawks had the last laugh. Atlanta strung together a 24-9 run over the final six minutes of the game and rode a miraculous buzzer-beating Tony Snell 3-pointer to victory.
“We didn’t want to give up a 3[-pointer],” Norman Powell said. “I was playing my guy, Kevin Huerter, I didn’t see K-Low base go. If I had seen K-Low go, and Huerter’s cut, I would have stayed out and took Snell. It’s just tough. We didn’t want Trae Young shooting the ball at the end, so we sent the farm at him, and wanted someone else to make a play.”
Young made a spectacular cross-court pass out of pressure to find Snell for the hearbreaking game-winner.
“We just needed one more play anywhere we could find one, one more bucket,” Nurse said. “One more bucket probably puts the game away or one more stop probably puts the game away and we just, unfortunately, didn’t find it because the guys played their guts out. Really proud of them for that, that is for sure.”
Even in defeat, the Raptors looked impressive for significant stretches. Kyle Lowry and Powell did the bulk of the heavy lifting, but Toronto got clutch performances from a handful of bench players to keep things close.
Chris Boucher had another breakout performance, scoring 29 points including a pair of clutch second-half And-1s. He did it mixing in some long-range shooting and the kind of pick-and-roll rim attacking that he’s become so good at this season.
By his side, Aron Baynes tallied his first double-double with Toronto, grabbing 15 rebounds to go with 11 points.
Powell Stays Hot For Toronto
Powell continues to be an unstoppable offensive force for the Raptors. His 33 points put him over the 30-point mark for the third time in the last four games. On Thursday night he even mixed in four assists
Lowry Jumps Bosh on Raptors All-Time Scoring Leaderboard
At the 2:09 mark of the second quarter, Lowry hit his first field goal of the night, a classic above-the-break pull-up 3-pointer. It gave him seven points and moved him into second place all-time on the Raptors scoring leaderboard ahead of Chris Bosh.
“I think it’s amazing,” Nurse said. “I don’t think he was ever billed as a guy who would when he came here, seven, eight years ago that was going to score like historical proportions like he’s done. So again, credit to him for just determination and building his game, building his shooting, longevity, he’s out there every night. He’s throwing his body around and finding ways to get the ball in the basket night after night for a lot of years now so it’s quite an accomplishment for him.”
Lowry finished the night with 17 points and 12 assists for his second straight double-double and third in the last four games.
Up Next: Charlotte Hornets
The Raptors will have the day off before hitting the road heading for Charlotte for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Saturday against the Hornets