Court Vision: Perfect Horford, Hawks rout Raptors for 11th straight
With an 11th straight win, these Hawks are nearing lofty territory in the franchise’s history.
In hammering the Raptors 110-89 on Friday night in Toronto, Atlanta matched its longest winning streak since Oct. 31-Nov. 18, 1997, with only a 12-game steak in 1968-69 and a 14-gamer in 1993 better.
In all, it’s 25 of 27 and most impressive about this latest victory, is that it came against the only team to beat Atlanta twice this season … which brings us to the first of three takeaways from the Hawks’ win.
In the season opener, the Hawks fell in Toronto 109-102, then the Raptors followed by dumping Atlanta by 126-115 in Philips Arena on Nov. 26.
That made a trip to the Air Canada Centre, where it was all of 18 degrees outside, seem dangerous. But even a team that seemed to hold some sway over the Hawks this season was a match for them amid this steak.
Atlanta, which has held a double-digit lead in each of the last 10 games, did it again, first off Jeff Teague’s jumper with 2:36 left in the first half to go up 46-36 and led by as many as 26. The Hawks are now 27-1 when going ahead by at least 10.
The Hawks have put together one impressive win after another during this run, beating the Trail Blazers, Clippers and Pistons on the road and dominating the Grizzlies and Wizards. While Friday’s victory was equally startling considering the opponent, it truly stood out for Atlanta’s effectiveness.
During the last 10 games, the Hawks shot 46.1 overall and as high as 51.2 during that Jan. 1 win in Portland, but against the Raptors, Atlanta was at 60.9 (42 of 69), including 12 of 23 (52.2) on 3-pointers.
"It’s hard to explain, but we were just moving the ball around a lot and taking a lot of open shots and I feel like that helped," said center Al Horford. "We’re taking good shots and when you’re taking good shots, you’re giving yourself a chance."
In the push to earn Eastern Conference coaches’ love in the All-Star Game reserve voting, Horford is making quite the statement.
He’s averaging 19.2 points over the last four games, including his first triple-double the last time out against the Sixers and against the Raptors, he may have added his best highlight of the season’s first half.
Horford drove to his right, losing Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas. Amir Johnson stepped in, rising up to meet the Hawks center, who threw down a one-handed dunk for two of his 22 points.
— HaWWWWWWWWWWWks (@ATLHawks) January 17, 2015
It was part of a perfect night from the field for Horford, who went 8 for 8, equaling Jan. 27, 2013, when he went 8 for 8 against the Knicks. The last Atlanta player not named Al Horford to hit all of his field goals with eight or more attempts was Dikembe Mutombo. He was 11 for 11 on Dec. 14, 1999 vs. the Timberwolves.
The only negatives to come out of Horford’s performance were a missed free throw in the fourth quarter and a long jumper in the third that was inches from being a 3-pointer.
"When you have it going, you have it going," Horford said. "All the shots I took were in the offense, they were good shots. I thought I had that corner 3 there, but they said I stepped on the line. It’s all good. I’m very happy and very pleased with the way that we played tonight."
Kyle Korver came in averaging just 1.4 turnovers per game, the fourth-fewest of any Hawks starter. That’s what made the opening half so perplexing as he committed five, including three in the first quarter.
But Korver bounced back, hitting a 3-pointer with 10:15 to play in the third quarter to put the Hawks up 20 and another to make it 22. He finished 3 of 5 on 3s and 4 of 6 from the field.
It continued a stunning run (detailed here by FOXSportsSouth.com’s Zach Dillard), as Korver is shooting 50.6 percent from the field, 52.5 on 3-pointers and 91.7 on free throws.
As Korver told Dillard, the secret has been avoiding bad nights, something he hasn’t always had in visiting Chicago, where the Hawks head Saturday night.
Korver, who spent 2010-12 with the Bulls, has shot at rates of 33.3 and 28.6 in Atlanta’s last two trips to United Center and shot 38.4 on 3s as a Hawks in that building.
11 — The Hawks have won a franchise-record 11 straight on the road, losing its last away from home on Dec. 13 at Orlando.
14 — Atlanta led by 14 after two quarters, marking the largest halftime deficit the Raptors had faced this season.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney