Raptors Rudy Gay (22) battles for the ball with Atlanta's DeShawn Stevenson during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto. The Hawks won the game to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
TORONTO -- The Atlanta Hawks used a dominating fourth quarter Wednesday night to clinch a playoff spot for the sixth consecutive season.
The game was tied after three quarters, but the Hawks outscored the Toronto Raptors 32-13 in the fourth to pull out a 107-88 win.
Atlanta's Al Horford and Jeff Teague led the scoring with 26 and 24 points, respectively. Five Raptors scored in double digits, led by Jonas Valanciunas, who had 19 points.
"It feels special because we weren't together for long and nobody gave us much of a chance," said Teague, who is one of only a handful of faces from last season's team after the Hawks underwent a massive offseason roster change. "For us to come together and be in the playoffs this year, there's a lot of excitement today."
The Raptors were without Amir Johnson for much of the second half after he left with a left leg contusion. X-rays were negative, but Johnson didn't return.
Atlanta led 81-80 with nine minutes remaining before Horford and Teague took over. The two players combined for all of the scoring in a 16-0 run that put the game beyond all doubt.
The Raptors committed 20 turnovers on the night en route to their fifth consecutive loss.
"You turn the ball over 20 times for 24 points, that's the game," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Once that happened, we didn't respond. When they got tough, got physical, we're looking for calls (with the refs) not calling them, and we have to adjust to the game."
The Hawks quickly eliminated a double-digit deficit, starting the second half by making their first three field goals and their first three free throws.
Toronto's lead was down to just one point with 7:43 left in the third quarter when the Raptors called a timeout after Atlanta's Ivan Johnson hit a jumper to make it 61-60.
"They really responded really well. I told that guys that what we really want to do is play within ourselves, to control the game," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said. "I told our guys we want to get a good shot every possession. Defensively, we wanted to limit them to one shot."
After the Hawks regained the lead by a single point with just under five minutes remaining, neither side was able to build up an advantage greater than two points the rest of the quarter, and the teams headed to the fourth tied 75-75.
"We were trying to make home run passes a bit too much, and we were a little bit too careless with the ball," said Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, who had 14 points. "You can't do that against them. A team like Atlanta can push the ball, and that was on us."
Atlanta tied the score early in the second quarter before the Raptors pulled out a lead that they took into the locker room.
Alan Anderson assisted on 3-pointers by John Lucas and Terrence Ross on consecutive possessions as Toronto's second-quarter lead grew as high as 11 points.
The half ended with DeRozan hitting a fade-away jumper with just under two seconds left to make it 54-44.
The Raptors used a 7-0 run to build a nine-point lead in the first quarter. The Hawks brought that margin down to three points when Josh Smith hit a 3-pointer with just under 30 seconds remaining, but Landry Fields managed a tip-in to make it 25-20 after one.
NOTES: Lou Williams (right knee), Zaza Pachulia (right Achilles) and Devin Harris (left foot) were all out for the Hawks. ... Rudy Gay, who was considered day-to-day with a sore back, scored 15 points for Toronto. ... The Raptors recalled forward Quincy Acy from their D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, on Tuesday. However, Acy (groin) was not available to play against the Hawks. Andrea Bargnani (elbow sprain) was the other injury absence for Toronto. ... Kyle Korver's streak of 65 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer is the fifth-longest run in NBA history. He went 2-for-6 from long distance Wednesday. ... The Hawks have used the most variation in terms of starting lineups this season (25 heading into Wednesday) while the Raptors have used the third most (22). ... The Hawks won the only other meeting (93-92) between the two teams on Jan. 30. They play again on the second-to-last day of the season, April 16.
BULLS END HEAT STREAK AT 27 WITH 101-97 WIN.
CHICAGO - The Miami Heat’s quest for history didn’t end quietly, that’s for sure.
The Chicago Bulls stopped the second-longest win streak in American professional sports history, beating the Heat 101-97 on Wednesday at a raucous United Center.
The Heat streak ended at 27, six short of the NBA record of 33, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
Playing without center Joakim Noah, guard Marco Belinelli, guard Richard Hamilton and, of course, Derrick Rose, the Bulls got 28 points from Luol Deng, while Carlos Boozer piled up 21 points and 17 rebounds.
Boozer came up with the biggest basket for Chicago, fighting off two opponents to grab an offensive rebound, then following it in to make it 96-89 with 57 seconds remaining.
Nate Robinson put the game out of reach with a lane drive and floater with 30.2 seconds on the clock, while LeBron James hung on the rim after trying to block the shot.
James led Miami with 32 points, while Chris Bosh scored 21 and Dwyane Wade had 18.
The game was physical throughout. Miami trailed by eight when James was called for a flagrant foul against Boozer, his former Cleveland teammate, with 3:52 remaining.
Boozer set a screen on the wing and James hit him hard with a shoulder to the chest, then flung his arm without making any serious contact.
Boozer hit one of two free throws and James blocked Kirk Hinrich’s driving lay-in. Miami pulled within 91-85 when Bosh drove for a lay-in and completed a 3-point play.
About a minute later, Bosh rebounded a 3-point miss by teammate Ray Allen, but Hinrich ripped the ball out of his grasp, leading to a Taj Gibson baseline jumper that made it 94-85 with 2:20 left.
Allen missed on the Heat’s next possession, but James intercepted a long outlet pass and finished a dunk. Following a defensive stop, Allen’s baseline drive cut the lead to 94-89 with 1:22 remaining.
After leading by as many as 13 points in the first half, Chicago clung to a 69-68 edge heading into the fourth quarter. The Bulls created some space with a 6-0 run, then added a pair of 3-pointers from Deng and a corner 3-pointer by Jimmy Butler to take an 86-79 lead with 5:13 remaining.
The Bulls got off to a quick start, scoring on their first six possessions to open a 13-2 lead. James got Miami going with a pair of 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the first quarter.
Chicago’s lead reached 13 points on several occasions early in the second quarter. The Heat chipped away and trailed 55-46 at halftime.
James opened the third quarter with a pair of fast-break dunks. Miami took its first lead of the night at 59-58 when Shane Battier knocked down a 3-pointer after a pair of Heat offensive rebounds with 4:28 left in the third.
When these teams last met in Chicago on Feb. 21, Miami generated its lowest point total of the winning streak, yet rolled past the Bulls 86-67. The Heat’s second-lowest point total during the streak was 97.
James talked about the season-long absence of the injured Rose at Wednesday’s shootaround.
“I love competing against the best and he’s one of the best,” James said. “The NBA as a whole, as a competitor, you miss him on the floor. Even off days, not being able to watch him out on the floor for the Bulls, it (stinks). But health is No. 1 in our league. We’ll see him back soon.”
NOTES: Rose made it clear at Wednesday’s shootaround that his return from ACL surgery would not happen against Miami. “Just taking my time, and that’s about it,” he said. “Been the same way for a couple months now.” … Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is hopeful Noah (plantar fasciitis) and Belinelli (abdominal strain) will be ready when Chicago is back in action at Dallas on Saturday. … Wade returned to the lineup Wednesday after sitting out two games to rest a sore right knee. Without him, the Heat made 28 baskets from 3-point range against the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats. … Chicago mourned the passing of longtime center Tom Boerwinkle, who died at age 67. He spent 10 seasons with the Bulls, beginning in 1968, and still owns the franchise record for rebounds in a game with 37.