TORONTO (TICKER) —Vince Carter is not having trouble finding motivation in a lost season.
Toronto has the third-worst record in the league and has no chance at the playoffs, but Carter is playing the best basketball of an injury-plagued season, averaging 23.2 points in his last 10 games.
“We have a lot to play for,” Carter said. “You guys act like we have no chance. We don’t, but at the same time, that’s not a reason to quit. We’re playing for pride, for next year. As far as this game is concerned, we had an embarrassing road trip.”
The Raptors returned to the Air Canada Centre following a winless five-game road trip and extended their home winning streak over the Hawks to five games. Atlanta had an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter but scored just 15 points in the final 12 minutes.
The Hawks made just 5-of-17 shots in the fourth but had an 86-83 lead after Glenn Robinson buried a 3-pointer with 59 seconds remaining, but Alvin Williams responded with a jumper to pull the Raptors within one just 20 seconds later.
“I heard the whistle and it kind of surprised me,” Carter said. “Maybe two weeks ago I wouldn’t get that call and we lose the game. I was a little shocked and excited I got the call so I had to settle myself down. That’s something I live for, the pressure of being on the free-throw line with the game on the line.”
“The whole gym saw (Carter) flopped on the play,” Hawks forward Glenn Robinson said. “It was a bad call. They made some plays, but the referee made the biggest of them all. We had a chance to win, but they took it away from us.”
Toronto’s lone All-Star buried both free throws, and Abdur-Rahim fired an airball on a turnaround jumper as time expired.
Carter scored six points and Voshon Lenard had five of his 13 in fourth quarter, when the Raptors made 10-of-20 shots.
“NBA ball is all about the team that makes the plays in the fourth quarter and they made more than we did,” Atlanta coach Terry Stotts said.
Jason Terry scored 23 points and Abdur-Rahim finished 22 for the Hawks, who fell to 0-3 on a four-game road trip.
“In the fourth quarter we didn’t do what we had to do on both ends of the floor,” Terry said. “We blew a couple of possession and you can’t do that against a good team.”
Robinson had 18 points and Theo Ratliff collected 10 and nine rebounds and Atlanta shot just 40 percent (31-of-78) from the floor.
The Hawks had a 62-61 lead with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter before reeling off nine straight points. Newble made two free throws and Terry buried a 3-pointer before Robinson and Abdur-Rahim made consecutive baskets for a 71-61 lead with 24 seconds left.
Lenard capped the quarter with a layup and the Raptors controlled the fourth, taking their first lead since early in the third quarter on Carter’s jumper with 1:54 remaining.