Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) and Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) battle for a rebound play at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. December 16, 2016. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Go figure, Hawks avenge 44-point loss to Raptors

The Hawks lost by 44 points to the Raptors two weeks ago. They returned for a 125-121 victory Friday night at the Air Canada Centre. The victory comes three days after the Hawks allowed the Magic 131 points in a home loss.

The Hawks’ up-and-down season continues – but count this win up there with the victory at the Cavaliers earlier this season.

The Hawks (13-13) won for just the fourth time in the past 15 games in a game they led by as many as 19 points.

Dwight Howard led the Hawks with his 17th double-double of the season with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Howard surpassed the 16,000 career-point mark and also moved past Elgin Baylor for 26th on the all-time NBA/ABA rebound list with 11,465.

The Hawks also got double-digit scoring from Dennis Schroder (24), Kyle Korver (19), Tim Hardaway Jr. (14), Paul Millsap (14) and Malcolm Delaney (10). Korver matched his season-high with six 3-pointers.

The Raptors (18-8) had a four-game win streak snapped and lost for only the second time in the past 12 games. They used a 14-4 run in the fourth quarter to pull within six points, 117-111. They got as close as three points with 6.7 seconds left.

DeMar DeRozan had a game-high 34 points and Kyle Lowry added 27 points for the Raptors, whose biggest lead was just two points.

The Hawks led by as many as 19 points in the first half and took a 69-52 lead into the intermission. Howard had 18 points and nine rebounds by halftime. Howard reached the 16,000 career-point mark with his first-half point production.

The Hawks started the much-better effort with 35 first-quarter points. They had 37 second-half points in the loss at the Raptors two weeks ago.

The Raptors pulled to within five points, 83-78, in the third quarter. The Hawks ended the period on a 12-4 run to take a 95-82 lead into the final quarter.

In the recent loss, the Hawks played without Millsap who missed the game with a sore hip. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Millsap would not make all the difference. He would help from every other Hawks player. He got it.

“He obviously has a big role for us and can do a lot of things – scoring, facilitating and probably as important defensive he brings a lot of versatility there,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “But I don’t think Paul is going to ride in on a horse and save the day. All of us, including Paul, will have to bring a high level of performance tonight.”

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