Atlanta (4-5) has not won since a 111-102 victory at Toronto (3-8) on Nov. 10. The Hawks have been unable to come through in the clutch in their skid, dropping the four games by a combined 13 points, including two overtime defeats.
It’s been a trying stretch for a team playing without forwards Marvin Williams (hand) and Josh Childress (foot). Williams has yet to see action and could be back before the end of December, while Childress has missed the last two games.
“We’re short-handed, we have to get Williams and Childress back in there,” coach Mike Woodson said. “Our guys are playing too many minutes, and we’ve had four carbon-copy games. We come down the stretch, and we can’t rebound the ball. That just takes the spark out of your defense.”
The Hawks are second in the NBA in opponents field-goal percentage (42.9), but that hasn’t translated into wins lately.
“We played some pretty good ball, but it’s hard to take anything good out of the way that we have lost these last four games,” guard Joe Johnson said. “It has been tough.”
The Hawks have dropped their last three home games against the Raptors, who have lost all six road contests this season and 13 straight dating to a 114-109 win over New York on March 21. Toronto is allowing an Eastern Conference-high 103.7 points per game.
The Raptors are back on the road after they ended a six-game losing streak with a 95-87 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday. It was their first home game since an 0-5 trip against Western Conference teams.
“We needed this,” forward Chris Bosh said. “We had our road woes on the West Coast, but we wanted to protect our home court and just get the monkey off our back.”
Toronto limited Cleveland to under 40 percent shooting, a season low for a Raptors opponent.
“Can we get some defensive credit today?” Toronto guard T.J. Ford said. “I believe it was us. We gave a great effort and I think it kind of wore them down. When it came down to the stretch those open shots they got were either long or short.”
Toronto’s Morris Peterson missed Wednesday’s game due to a slightly torn muscle in his left elbow, ending the longest consecutive games streak in the NBA at 371.
Bosh is averaging 27.3 points and 10.7 rebounds during the Raptors’ three-game winning streak in Atlanta, where he played one year of college basketball at Georgia Tech before Toronto selected him with the fourth pick of the 2003 draft.
He had 19 points and 17 rebounds in Toronto’s loss to Atlanta two weeks ago. Johnson led the Hawks with a season-high 34 points in that contest and Josh Smith added a career-high 29.