Hawks 107, Raptors 88

The Atlanta Hawks weren’t expected to make it back to the

playoffs after trading Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams last

summer.

It must feel good to silence the doubters.

Al Horford scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter,

Jeff Teague had 24 points and 13 assists and the Hawks clinched a

playoff berth for the sixth straight season, beating the Toronto

Raptors 107-88 on Wednesday night.

”I’m really proud of this bunch with what we accomplished

tonight,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. ”There were a lot of

people that counted us out at the start of the season and said we

wouldn’t be in this position. With all the changes that we made,

here we are.”

Teague was just as delighted.

”This is a group no one really gave a chance,” he said. ”For

us to come together and be in the playoffs this year, it’s a lot of

excitement.”

After being hired last June, Hawks general manager Danny Ferry

turned over the roster by dealing Johnson to Brooklyn and Williams

to Utah. Willie Green was sent to the Clippers, Jordan Farmar was

waived and Kirk Hinrich left as a free agent.

Atlanta’s success at weathering those changes means a lot to

Horford.

”This team could have easily gone the other way,” he said.

”We haven’t had the perfect year, a lot of injuries. We’ve been up

and down as a team. I’m proud of the way we’ve been able to hang in

there and play through adversity. That’s been the biggest thing for

us.”

The Hawks still have a shot at earning home court advantage in

the first round. They entered play Wednesday tied with Chicago for

the fifth seed, just 2 1/2 games behind fourth-place Brooklyn.

”We just want to be in the best position that we can, whatever

that is,” Horford said.

Josh Smith scored 19 points for the Hawks, who used a 16-0 run

midway through the fourth to win for the 13th time in their last 15

meetings with the Raptors.

Horford had just six points in the first half but still reached

double digits for the 31st consecutive game, the second-longest

streak of his career. He did it in 33 straight games in

2009-10.

”He has really come into his own,” Drew said. ”He got off to

a little bit of a slow start but as the game went on he started

getting more and more into a rhythm. You could see in the second

half where he was really wanting the basketball so we were running

plays where we got him the ball. We were putting him positions

where he was picking and popping and he was knocking the shot

down.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey had suggested his team might shut down

Rudy Gay after the star forward left Friday’s home loss to the

Knicks with a sore back, then sat out Saturday’s loss in New York.

Still sore, Gay started against the Hawks, scoring 15 points in 34

minutes and matching his season high with 12 rebounds.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 19 points, DeMar DeRozan had 14,

Terrence Ross 13 and Alan Anderson 12 for the Raptors, who have

lost four straight and 11 of 14.

Toronto forward Amir Johnson left with 10:28 left in the third

with a left leg contusion. X-rays were negative but he did not

return.

Toronto was outscored 55-29 after Johnson went down, leaving

Casey bemoaning his team’s lack of toughness.

”We didn’t respond when they got physical,” Casey said.

”We’re looking for calls, and they’re not calling them.”

The Raptors trailed 81-80 after Anderson’s 3-pointer with 9:11

left, but Horford scored six of the next eight points, four on jump

shots and two on a dunk, putting the Hawks up 89-80 with 7:26 to

play.

Teague made back-to-back 3-pointers then added a driving jump

shot, giving the Hawks a 97-80 lead with 4:39 left.

DeRozan snapped Toronto’s 4:48 scoreless streak with a pair of

free throws, but Horford answered with a slam off an alley-oop from

Teague.

Gay scored six in the first and DeRozan and Amir Johnson each

had five as the Raptors led 25-20 after one.

Ross scored nine points in the second and DeRozan had seven,

including a jump shot with less than two seconds left, giving the

Raptors a 54-44 lead at the half.

Atlanta took a 71-69 lead, its first since early in the second

quarter, on Smith’s 3 with 3:23 left in the third. Ross scored four

of Toronto’s next six points as the Raptors reclaimed the lead, but

a pair of free throws by Smith with 30 seconds left knotted the

score at 75-all heading to the fourth.

Atlanta’s Kyle Korver extended his streak of game with at least

one 3-pointer to 65. Korver’s streak is the fifth-longest in NBA

history. Reggie Miller (68 games) had the fourth-longest, while

Dana Barros tops the list with an 89-game streak.

NOTES: Hawks G Devin Harris missed his second straight game with

a sore left foot. … Toronto rookie F Quincy Acy was not available

because of a sore hamstring. … Toronto shot 5 for 20 in the

fourth quarter. … The Raptors made 20 turnovers, leading to 24

points for the Hawks.