The Hawks fell to the Raptors 123-121 at home Friday in their return from All-Star Break.

Here are five observations.

1. It all came down to making the right stops defensively, something the Hawks have struggled with this season. They couldn’t make enough down the stretch against the Raptors after they pulled within two (114-112 on DeAndre Hunter’s three-pointer) in the final three minutes.

Kelly Olynyk banked in a jumper and later added a finger roll layup against Trey Young in a switching Hawks defense. Gary Trent hit a wide open 3 from the wing after the Hawks failed to close out in time defensively.

Hunter and Saddiq Bey kept hitting free throws to keep the game within reach, but then the biggest play of the final minute happened -- referees whistled Dejounte Murray (who had a team-high 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven rebounds) out of bounds after his left foot touched the sideline with 15 seconds remaining and the team trailing 121-118. It apparently took the wind out the Hawks attempted rally as they left the lane wide open for a dunk from Bruce Brown four seconds later to secure the win.

Young hit a 3 in the final seconds, but finished with a season-low 11 points.

“You don’t want to make excuses for anything,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “I thought that we had to get our rhythm in our timing. But I thought we needed to get back better.”

2. Though the Hawks would put up some strong stands defensively throughout the game, the Raptors tore them apart on back cuts to the basket - especially in the fourth quarter.

With 10:31 to play, Brown found Olynyk with an overhead pass before immediately cutting down the lane and blowing by two Hawks defenders for a layup. Just under a minute later, Raptors rookie Gradey Dick took advantage of the Hawks’ delay in getting back on defense, caught his defender looking the other and cut to the basket for an easy layup.

The Hawks have struggled to stop back door cuts as they’ve been slow to get back in transition. The Hawks gave up 24 fastbreak points to a Raptors team that leads the league in fastbreak points.

3. Their struggle to close out Friday night began long before the final stretch. They trailed the Raptors by as many as 17 points in the first half (making only eight field goals in the first quarter) but rebounded with a 21-7 run in the second quarter.

The spurt began with a 3 from Bogdan Bogdanovic, a dunk from Bruno Fernando through a pair of defenders and a 3 from Garrison Mathews that forced the a Raptors timeout. The Hawks eventually took a 49-48 lead after a 3 from Bey with 4:49 to play in the first half.

“Obviously, you’re you’re grinding your way back,” Snyder said. “And, you know, I thought we had some really good looks that we missed that could have put us, over the top, and that didn’t happen. So, we need to do more.”

5. The Hawks had to finish the game without Snyder after officials ejected him in the second quarter after he hotly protested a no-call. With 4:25 to play in the first half, Raptor center Jakob Poetl set a screen for Gary Trent but doesn’t set a legal guarding position, catches Young on the hip and sends him flying to the sidelines.

It fired up the coach, who went to advocate for his player. But the coach’s approach resulted in officials tossing him from the game.

“We knew we needed to turn it up after that,” Jalen Johnson said. “There was a lot of emotion in this game, a lot of reactions. We just knew we needed to step things up a little bit and have coach’s back at the end of the day. Because he had our back.”

Hawks assistant Igor Kokoskov finished out the game in Snyder’s absence.

Stat to know

4: Trae Young scored 11 points on Friday, making it four consecutive games he has scored 19 or less points.


“As a player you love to see that from your coach. Your coach sticking up for you. The ref may have missed the call but I don’t even think he should even be in that position, honestly cause if the ref makes the call that, we won’t even have two techs or three techs or however many techs it was. So, that’s all I’m going to say.” -- De’Andre Hunter on Quin Snyder’s ejection.

Up Next

The Hawks host the Magic on Sunday at State Farm Arena.