Reeling Atlanta welcomes break
by Ian Harrison
Associated Press Sports Writer
February 13, 2014 05:29 PM | 1096 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Raptors’ Greivis Vasquez, left, battles the Hawks’ Dennis Schroder for a loose ball during the first half of Wednesday’s game in Toronto.
<Br>Associated Press photo
The Raptors’ Greivis Vasquez, left, battles the Hawks’ Dennis Schroder for a loose ball during the first half of Wednesday’s game in Toronto.
Associated Press photo
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TORONTO — The slumping Atlanta Hawks are ready for a break from basketball. The first-place Toronto Raptors are happy to get one, too.

DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points, Kyle Lowry had 16 points and 13 assists, and the Raptors snapped a five-game home losing streak to Atlanta on Wednesday night, beating the struggling Hawks 104-83 in the final game for both teams before the NBA All-Star break.

Gustavo Ayon had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Millsap had 17 for the Hawks, who have lost five straight. Jeff Teague scored 13 and Cartier Martin 10 as Atlanta lost for the fourth time in its past five road games.

“It’s been a tough stretch,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’re going to take a break and we’ll all recharge and re-energize and we’ll come back and build on a lot of the positives that we had.”

Atlanta (25-26) fell below .500 for the first time since Dec. 2, when a loss at San Antonio dropped them to 9-10.

The Hawks, who lost at Chicago on Tuesday, are running low on energy, Budenholzer said.

“When we have good energy and we’re able to sustain it for 48 minutes, that’s when we’re at our best,” he said. “Right now, we’re struggling to sustain it for 48 minutes. You’re seeing that with either a good start and we’re not able to maintain it or we dig ourselves a hole and we try to come back. In this league, that’s just too hard.”

Atlanta’s All-Star weekend will begin with an extra night north of the border. With a winter storm whacking the Southeast on Wednesday, the Hawks stayed over in Toronto before trying to return home Thursday.

Patrick Patterson had 14 and Terrence Ross 13 as the Raptors beat the Hawks in Toronto for the first time since March 17, 2010, when Chris Bosh hit a jumper in the closing seconds of a 106-105 victory.

“We understood how much this game meant,” DeRozan said.

Greivis Vasquez scored 12 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 14 rebounds as Toronto won for the 10th time in 12 home games and maintained a three-game edge over Brooklyn atop the Atlantic Division. The Raptors had lost seven of their past eight home meetings with the Hawks.

Toronto may be faring better than Atlanta right now, but the Raptors are just as eager to enjoy some downtime.

“Personally, I need a rest,” Lowry said. “I know everybody needs a rest. You’ve got to mentally relax and physically relax also. It’s always important to take care of your body at this time.”

DeRozan, a first-time All-Star, who’s also involved in Saturday’s skills challenge, will get a little less downtime than most of his teammates, but he knows any break is a good one.

“We need a rest, we’ve got a lot of players banged up,” he said. “It’s come at the perfect time.”

The Raptors broke the game open with a 33-point third quarter, keyed by 14 from DeRozan.

“The guy is having an unbelievable season,” Vasquez said. “Obviously he’s our main guy and he can really score.”

The Raptors pulled away in the fourth as they made a winning start to a stretch of games against their closest rivals in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Toronto visits Washington on Tuesday in its first game after the break, then hosts Chicago on Wednesday.

Atlanta’s Kyle Korver extended his NBA record streak of games with at least one made 3-pointer to 120 when he connected at 3:15 of the first quarter. Korver has hit at least one 3 in every game he’s played since Nov. 2, 2012.

Millsap scored seven points in the first and the Raptors missed 14 of their first 17 field goal attempts before making four of their final seven. Atlanta led 24-19 after one.

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