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Josh Smith and the Hawks had their way with the lethargic Raptors

The Raptors came in looking for a fourth straight home win and another Sunday afternoon stunner. The Hawks were less than 24 hours removed from a solid win at Madison Square Garden. Toronto was not expected to get the W, but was at least expected to compete, given the way the season has gone thus far.

So much for that.

The Raptors came out with adequate energy in the first quarter, and traded blows with the Hawks in a high-scoring opening 12 minutes. In the second quarter, Atlanta began to pull away, and the Raps showed signs of settling for poor shots. Toronto ended the half down by only six and were still in a game they didn’t deserve to be in, setting themselves up for a chance to steal one in the second half.

That’s where all hope died.

The Raptors shot a disastrous 3-of-17 from the field in the third quarter, netting just 11 points. Atlanta’s lead stretched and stretched as the quarter wore on, and the Hawks opened up a 20-point advantage to take into the fourth.

It was the Raptors who looked like a team coming off of a back-to-back, as they seemed to stop running and got noticeably lazy on the offensive end.

If someone had told you at halftime that the Hawks would only have 44 second-half points, you probably would have assumed that the Raptors had a good chance for the win. Too bad the Raps responded with only 32.

There was a stretch in the third when the Hawks went scoreless on five straight possessions, opening up an opportunity for the Raptors to chip away. Toronto came away with a measly two points during that stretch.

From an individual standpoint, there wasn’t much to like either. Andrea Bargnani had 12 and five after one half, and looked unstoppable again on the offensive end. He finished with just 14 and 6 after getting into foul trouble.

Joey Dorsey posted a solid line of nine points and six rebounds in just 20 minutes of action as a starter, but his hustle didn’t seem to have the same infectious effect as Reggie’s.

DeMar DeRozan’s game remained questionable, to say the least. DeMar refused to get involved until the game had already been decided. Don’t let his 13 points fool you; 10 came in a meaningless fourth quarter. If DeRozan wants to become a consistent contributor this season, he needs to stay aggressive and earn his teammates’ trust with the ball.

The only Raptor who did set his mind to attack mode was Jerryd Bayless, but he was given just 18 minutes of burn in what was one of Jay Triano’s numerous questionable decisions.

Jose didn’t have it today and it was evident early. Barbosa wasn’t much better. Sounds like a perfect game to see what Jerryd can give you, no? Not according to Triano. The most frustrating sequence came early in the fourth quarter. Bayless is attacking the basket on every possession and at least trying to make things happen. The Raptors are down 22 with only nine minutes left. And Triano goes back to Jose for the next six minutes.

I guess it’s not like Bayless could use those minutes, right? So much for letting Jerryd play.

Another head-scratcher came in the third quarter. Kleiza isn’t doing much offensively, so you figure he has to play well on the other end to warrant staying on the floor. Then, Josh Smith absolutely abuses Linas on three or four straight possessions. Fans are moaning, Smith is laughing and the very next play, Kleiza is still on the floor, guarding Josh again. A young boy beside me, maybe around 12-years-old, looks at his Dad and asks, “why don’t they bench no. 11 and try someone else on Smith?”

Jay, you’ve done a great job getting the best out of your guys this year, but today, you could have taken suggestions from children in attendance.

Lastly, I realized today that most Raptors fans do understand what this year is about. If today’s effort was on display last season, or in a season with any expectations at all, the Raptors would have been booed off the floor, and rightfully so.  But there was a sense of  “this will happen sometimes this season” in the crowd, and other than a few hecklers here and there, the fans were rather forgiving.

Raptors Player of the Game: Joey Dorsey – 20 Min, 9 Pts, 4-6 FG, 1-2 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Ast

Hawks Player of the Game: Josh Smith – 37 Min, 12 Pts, 4-10 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 4-6 FT, 13 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk

Goat of the Game: Jose Calderon – 30 Min, 3 Pts, 1-7 FG, 1-1 FT, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO (Most of the Raptors could have filled this spot today)