Sonny Weems tore up the court with the ball early in the third quarter, intent on making the fast-break layup.
Moments later, the forward served up an unappetizing air ball from 12 feet and the downfall was in full swing for the Toronto Raptors.
Andrea Bargnani was then short on a long field-goal attempt and point guard Jose Calderon, not to be outdone, was guilty of a lazy inlet pass that was easy pickings for Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks to intercept for the turnover.
It only took a couple of minutes in that wretched third quarter for the short-handed Raptors to squander a decent opening half of play Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre.
And the Hawks (11-7) made the most of the myriad miscues to inflict a 96-78 pounding on the Raptors (6-11), who suffered their most lopsided defeat of the NBA season in the process.
Afterward, a displeased Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano in no uncertain terms laid the blame for the setback at the feet of his starters, who were dominated by a hungrier Atlanta team that won for the third straight outing.
“DeMar [DeRozan] got outplayed by Joe Johnson,” Triano said. “Jose got outplayed by Mike Bibby. Andrea got outplayed by Josh Smith. Sonny [Weems] got outplayed by Marvin Williams, Joey [Dorsey] got outplayed by Al Horford. Okay.
“Nobody could score, we couldn’t stop those guys. That’s why you have a 20-point game.”
Though the lack of defensive resistance Toronto offers provided little in the way of useful perspective with which to evaluate the general level of quality the Hawks achieved Sunday afternoon, it did grant us a game-long look at how Larry Drew’s offense is designed to work: constant movement of both players and the ball until someone, anyone gets an open look.
The five starters plus Jamal Crawford each attempted between 8 and 13 field goals. Each of the six players earned at least one assist. The team scored frequently and early enough to allow Drew to limit the minutes of most of the core players. The Hawks can’t make the Raptors provide a stern defensive test. They can only go out and execute or not. This afternoon, they executed.
Toronto, assembled in such a way as to preclude the possibility of playing quality defense, should be far more concerned with their complete offensive capitulation in the third quarter. They scored 50 points on their first 46 possessions, a rate sufficient to compete in this game as well as almost exactly what one would expect given the season-to-date performances of both their offense and Atlanta’s defense. Over the final 10:27 of the third quarter, they managed to make just one field goal, five free throws, and committed six turnovers. Offensive execution is not so easy as it seems.
Jerryd Bayless logged his highest total of minutes as a Raptor on Sunday (18) and although he only hit one of his five shots, his aggressive mentality saw him get to the free throw line a game-high eight times (with six makes). In the third quarter, his willingness to draw contact was really the only thing working for Toronto.
"We had to do something, we told him just to attack and hopefully the whistle will blow," said Jay Triano post-game. "Get them into foul trouble. Set an aggressive tone for us and we have to attack the basket."
Solomon Alabi, the 7-foot-1 starting center who speaks four languages, is the property of the Toronto Raptors. He had nine points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and altered at least a half-dozen other Mad Ants shots inside.
Then off the bench came 6-10 North Carolina product Ed Davis, the No. 13 overall pick of the Raptors in the 2010 NBA draft who had 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks, and 6-5 Christian Eyenga, a Cleveland Cavs swingman who added 11 points.
With Erie’s dominating inside presence, the BayHawks, who shot 55 percent in Friday’s win, went even better Sunday, shooting 58 percent (43 of 74).
“They shot something like 68 percent in the first half,” Meyer said. “I don’t care who you’re playing; you’re not going to beat a team when they shoot the ball that well.”
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