Smith, Hawks overcome Raptors

BY foxsports • April 8, 2009

A flurry of 3s boosted the Atlanta Hawks' hopes of No. 4.

Josh Smith had 25 points and seven rebounds, and the Hawks used 11-for-22 shooting from 3-point range to beat the Toronto Raptors 118-110 on Tuesday night.

The Hawks (44-34), trying to secure the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, also got 25 points from Joe Johnson and 17 from Maurice Evans. Mike Bibby added 13 points and 10 assists, while Al Horford chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds.

"It's huge for our ball club," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I've said all along all year, these guys are playing for something. They know what is at stake. We are trying to win that fourth spot. We still have a lot of work ahead of us."

Chris Bosh had 21 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth consecutive double-double and 40th this season, but the Raptors lost their second in a row after winning six straight.

Shawn Marion had 18 points and six rebounds, Jose Calderon added 16 points and 13 assists, and Andrea Bargnani scored 15 points for the Raptors.

"The thing that hurt us most was the second-chance points, and they got 3s on the second-chance points," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "The one thing over the past seven games is, we have won the battle on the boards seven times. To lose that battle today, it was the 11 offensive rebounds they got."

Smith's block on Bargnani led to Evans' dunk, putting the Hawks up 107-100 with 4:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. Horford then stole the ball from Calderon to set up a 3-pointer by Johnson with 2:57 remaining to make it 112-102, effectively sinking the Raptors' hopes.

"We just wanted to play defense and we wanted to focus on the defensive end," Smith said. "We were giving them too many easy looks at the basket and we wanted to settle down on the defensive end and get out and run a little bit."

The Hawks went on a 14-8 run to begin the third quarter, erasing the Raptors' lead and going up 67-65 midway through the quarter before a Toronto timeout. The Raptors trailed 85-84 going into the fourth after Smith hit a 3-pointer to put the Hawks in the lead.

"We were stacking the lane pretty good," Bosh said. "I think Joe Johnson did a good job of creating for his teammates. They shot it with a lot of confidence and they just really let it go."

The Raptors, who need to win at least three of their next five games to avoid a 50-loss season for the first time since 2005, now go on the road to play the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday before returning home to take on the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Notes: Bosh had averaged 26.0 points and 10.7 rebounds and 51 percent shooting against Atlanta in three games this season coming into Tuesday's contest. ... As part of the NBA's Green Week initiatives, the Air Canada Centre dimmed some internal and external lights. As well, Direct Energy donated $100 for every free throw made by the Raptors, with proceeds going to the David Suzuki Foundation.

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