Hawks beat Raptors, clinch playoff berth

TORONTO — This was one night the Atlanta Hawks were happy to be playing back-to-back games.

Jeff Teague had 19 points and 10 assists, Ivan Johnson scored a career-high 21 and the Hawks beat Toronto 109-87 on Monday to clinch their fifth consecutive playoff berth.

Joe Johnson scored 18 points and Josh Smith had 15 points and nine rebounds as the Hawks avenged Sunday’s 102-86 home loss to Toronto, a game in which the Raptors never trailed.

“I’m glad we were able to turn right back around and play this team again,” Joe Johnson said. “That way we could really get that sour taste out of our mouth.”

Teague agreed that it was good to face Toronto again while the sting of Sunday’s defeat was still fresh.

“Losing a home game like that, you want to come out and get another crack at it,” Teague said. “It’s rare when you get another chance to play a team that just beat you.”

Marvin Williams scored 16 for Atlanta and former Raptors star Tracy McGrady scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, giving the Hawks their seventh win in eight games against the Raptors.

“We let it slide through the cracks (Sunday) night but we responded tonight,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “Right at the beginning of the game we played with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity.”

Drew issued a pregame challenge to Teague to step up his aggressiveness and the third-year guard followed through by leading the Hawks to 28 fast-break points, the most by a Raptors opponent this season.

“I thought he was a difference maker tonight with his speed,” Drew said. “He got in the lane quite a few times tonight. When he’s playing with that type of aggression, we’re just a different ball club.”

The victory allowed the Hawks to remain tied with Orlando, which earned a home win over Philadelphia earlier Monday, for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta owns the tiebreaker with the Magic.

“We’re right there in the thick of things,” Drew said. “As long as there’s an opportunity for us to move up, we want to try to take advantage of that.”

The Hawks finished their road schedule at 17-16, the first time they’ve been above .500 on the road since the lockout shortened 1998-99 season, when they went 15-10. They finish up with five straight at home against Detroit, Miami, the Knicks, Clippers and Dallas.

“Hopefully we can get all five of those,” Teague said. “That would be big.”

DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points to lead Toronto, James Johnson had 18 and Alan Anderson added 12.

“What a difference a day makes,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “(The Hawks) came out and made some shots.”

Leading 79-68 through three, Atlanta pulled further away with an 8-0 run to start the final quarter, including three points from McGrady and a 3 by Joe Johnson.

Anderson stopped the run with a 3 but Toronto never recovered and was unable to get the deficit below 15 points the rest of the way.

“We did the exact same thing that they did (Sunday),” James Johnson said. “We let our heads down early when the fight was still on.”

DeRozan had 11 points in the first quarter and James Johnson came off the bench to score seven, but Williams hit a 3 with less than a second left to pull the to 32-30 after 12 minutes.

James Johnson scored eight points in a dunk-filled second quarter, with the teams combining for six slams, four by the Raptors. Teague answered with eight points and Ivan Johnson and Williams each had six for Atlanta, which led 54-51 at halftime.

Toronto scored just four points in the final 3:12 of the third as Atlanta turned a 67-64 edge into a 79-68 lead heading into the fourth. Teague scored eight points in the third and Ivan Johnson had seven.

Seldom-used Toronto center Solomon Alabi set career highs with eight points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes. Guard Ben Uzoh set career-highs with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

NOTES: The Raptors signed Anderson and Uzoh for the rest of the season but did not re-sign G Justin Dentmon when his 10-day contract expired Monday. … Toronto’s Jose Calderon (right eye) missed his third straight game while Linas Kleiza (sore right knee) dressed but did not play. … Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar attended the game. … Atlanta is 24-3 when scoring 100 points or more. … The Raptors wore camouflage uniforms on the fourth and final time this season. … Toronto’s final home game, April 26 against New Jersey, has been moved ahead one hour and will now start at 7 p.m. EDT.

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