TORONTO — The Atlanta Hawks are under no illusions.
They are surging right now and after dominating the Toronto Raptors 110-89 on Friday have won 11 in a row. They also have won 10 straight on the road, extending a team record.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
“We’ve got to keep pushing, keep going,” said center Al Horford who led the Hawks with 22 points and added five rebounds and five assists.
The Hawks lost two games early in the season to the Raptors and have won 25 of 27 games since the second loss to Toronto.
Guard DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 25 points in his second game back after missing 21 games because of injury, but it was not enough to prevent the Raptors’ sixth loss in their past eight games.
“They’re a good team,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “That game was not us. We didn’t come out and put our best game on the court. …we’re still in a rut and the only way we’re going to get out of it is by working our way out of it.”
There were only four lead changes in the game and the biggest advantage for the Raptors was one point. The Hawks led by as many as 26.
“It was impressive,” Horford said. “I’m proud of the way that we handled everything tonight. I felt we stuck to the game plan that coach wanted us to do and we did a good job with that. …I feel like all the pieces are starting to come together, we’re starting to figure each other out and now to play together and that’s why the success.”
The Hawks (32-8) also got 16 points and eight rebounds from forward Paul Millsap. Guard Jeff Teague had 13 points and nine assists, forward DeMarre Carroll contributed 13 points and guard Kyle Korver added 11. All five Atlanta starters reached double figures in scoring and reserve guard Kent Bazemore added 10 points.
The Hawks shot 60.9 percent from the field while the Raptors shot 42.7 percent.
“When we shoot it well like that, and we take care of the ball, then you keep going back and you have to be good at the other end too,” Budenholzer said. “There were a lot of opportunities for our guys to get good looks tonight.”
“Everything we took away from them, they made,” Casey said. “We switched it, we blitzed it, we did a little bit of everything in their half-court game and they took advantage of each situation. We had trouble scoring on our end and we had some good looks we couldn’t make.”
Reserve forward James Johnson scored 17 points and had six rebounds for the Raptors (26-13). Guard Kyle Lowry scored 11 points and added five assists as Toronto fell to 2-3 on a six-game home stand that ends on Sunday.
“We just started to get a little overconfident,” Johnson said. “We started taking it to hear that we were a good team and we haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
The Hawks led 24-19 after the first quarter and stretched it to 52-38 at the half.
Teague opened the second half with a 3-pointer to bump the lead to 17. The advantage reached 22 when Korver hit his third 3-pointer of the game with 6:52 left in the third. The lead reached 24 points before the third quarter ended with Atlanta ahead 85-68.
Horford made a six-footer and converted the free throw to put the Hawks up by 20 points with 10:04 to play in the fourth quarter. When Millsap converted a pass from Horford with a dunk the lead reached 23 points with 8:51 remaining.
The Hawks led by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter. The lead was still 20 points with 3:08 to play.
“They are healthy, they have all their guys and they are moving the ball extremely well,” DeRozan said. “They are playing at a high level and you have to give them credit, especially when they play hard at both ends.”
NOTES: G Kyle Korver and C Al Horford returned to Atlanta’s starting lineup on Friday. Both were rested Wednesday in the win over the Celtics in Boston. … Before G DeMar DeRozan was injured Nov. 28, the Raptors averaged 29.4 free throws per game. During his 21-game absence, the average dropped to 22.1 and the Raptors were 12-9. DeRozan led the team by averaging 7.8 free throws in the season’s first 16 games. … The Raptors won the first two meetings between the teams this season: 109-102 at Toronto on Oct. 29 and 126-115 at Atlanta on Nov. 26. After the second loss to Toronto, Atlanta won its next nine games. … The Hawks last won 11 games in a row from Oct. 31 to Nov. 18, 1997. … The Hawks visit the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Raptors are home to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
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