TORONTO (AP)—Raptors coach Sam Mitchell let his players know that a second loss to the NBA’s worst team wasn’t acceptable.
Jalen Rose scored 30 points, and the Raptors responded to a halftime tongue-lashing by Mitchell, rallying from a 19-point deficit in the second half and beating the Atlanta Hawks 109-101 in overtime Friday night.
The loss was the 14th straight for the Hawks, who have the league’s worst record at 11-64.
“I’m not going to say what I said,” Mitchell said. “You can only imagine. . . it wasn’t good.”
Morris Peterson added 26 points and 14 rebounds, and Rafer Alston finished with 21 points and eight assists for the Raptors, who narrowly avoided being beaten by the Hawks for the second time this season.
Predrag Drobnjak scored 21 points to lead the Hawks, who beat Toronto on March 11 for their lone victory in their last 28 games.
“We’ve been in enough footnotes this year, and we felt like today was a good chance to not be in another one,” Rose said.
The night featured two teams playing mainly for pride—the Raptors are on the brink of mathematical elimination from the playoff race, while Atlanta has the worst record in the NBA.
The Raptors played a dismal first half, allowing the Hawks to sprint out to an 18-point lead in the first quarter.
“Coach said we’ve got two choices, we can pack it in or go out there and play hard and not get embarrassed, and we chose not to be embarrassed,” Peterson said.
Toronto rallied to trail by just four points heading into the fourth quarter, and Alston’s 3-pointer with 4:58 left put the Raptors up 86-84, their first lead since early in the first.
“Coach really got on us; that’s the coach I’ve been waiting for all season long, come in here and get on us, put some fire in our behinds and make us go out there and perform,” Alston said.
Alston drained another 3 with 1:31 left to put Toronto up 95-91, but Atlanta’s Tyronn Lue forced overtime when he made a pair of free throws with 11.4 seconds remaining.
Toronto dominated the extra period, and back-to-back 3s by Peterson and Rose gave the Raptors a 108-101 lead with 40 seconds left.
The Raptors shot just 22 percent in the first quarter and fell behind 31-13. Atlanta was up 17 entering the second quarter, prompting boos from the disgruntled Air Canada Centre crowd.
The Hawks stretched their lead to 19 on a jumper by Delk with 8:35 left before the half. The Raptors showed some life and managed to cut Atlanta’s lead to 12 points late in the quarter, but still trailed 47-33 at halftime.
Peterson had 11 points in the third quarter and the Raptors outscored the Hawks 36-26 in the period to pull within 70-69 with under a minute to go. Drobnjak’s 3-pointer put the Hawks up 73-69 entering the fourth.
“They just started knocking down some shots,” said Josh Smith, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks. “They knocked some free throws down and hit some big three-pointers to close the mark. We got it to overtime but we were unable to pull it out.”
Friday’s game was the first in a stretch of four in five nights for the Raptors. The Raptors are at Chicago on Saturday before hosting Indiana on Monday then playing at New York on Tuesday.