Five observations from the Hawks’ 96-86 loss to the Raptors

The Hawks let one get away – in grand fashion.

They failed to hold a 17-point first-half lead against the Raptors in a 96-86 loss Wednesday night at Philips Arena.

The up-and-down Hawks (12-9) haven’t won two games in a row since Nov. 7 when they had a seven-game win streak snapped.

The Raptors (12-7) got a huge fourth-quarter effort from Kyle Lowry in the victory.

Here are the key players and five observations on the game:

Three key players

Kyle Lowry: He finished with a game-high 31 points despite battling flu-like symptoms.

DeMar DeRozan: He finished with 17 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Paul Millsap: He led the Hawks with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Five observations

1. Lowry takeover

The Raptors point guard simply took over the fourth quarter. He scored 22 points in the period, including a run of 12 straight Raptors points. The Raptors turned a nine-point deficit into a seven-point advantage, 82-75, with his layup with 4:22 remaining. They would lead by as many as 10.

2. Raptors pull close

The Raptors got as close as seven points, 64-57, in the third quarter as they chipped away at the Hawks’ double-digit advantage. They used a 13-4 run to get to a single-digit deficit. The Hawks took a 66-57 advantage into the final quarter. They completely lost their lead with 6:28 left in the game when the Raptors started the fourth quarter on a 17-7 run and went up 74-73.

3. Sefolosha starts

Thabo Sefolosha made his third straight start, and fifth in the past six Hawks games, at small forward. The veteran is there to stay for the time being. A game after not scoring but doing everything else, including guarding Kevin Durant, in a win over the Thunder, Sefolosha was at it again. He scored 11 first-half points (on 5 of 8 shooting) and was a plus-14. He finished with 13 points.

4. Stifling second

The Hawks took a 17-point lead with a fast start to the second quarter. They opened the period on a 25-10 run and led 43-26. The Hawks took a 46-32 advantage into intermission. The Raptors’ 32 first-half points, 16 in each of the first two quarters, was easily the lowest point total allowed in any half by the Hawks this season. The previous low was 39 in the first half against the Hornets on Nov. 1. The Raptors shot just 6 of 18 from the field in the second quarter.

5. Carroll returns

DeMarre Carroll returned to Atlanta for the first time since signing with the Raptors as a free agent this summer. The forward, who spent two seasons with the Hawks, received a large ovation from the Philips Arena crowd during player introductions. During the timeout following the end of the first quarter, the Hawks played a video tribute to Carroll on the overhead scoreboard. The crowd once again gave Carroll loud applause and cheers. He finished with five points on 2 of 8 shooting and did not play the entire fourth quarter.