ATLANTA â€” Dennis Schroder and the Atlanta Hawks salvaged a strong finish to an otherwise disappointing homestand.
Schroder scored 26 points, including 13 in the final period, and the Hawks beat the Toronto Raptors 105-99 on Friday night to pull closer in the race for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks finished a 3-3 homestand with two straight wins over Brooklyn and the Raptors. Beating Toronto, the team Atlanta is chasing in the Eastern Conference, was especially important.
“It’s big,” said Thabo Sefolosha. “We needed those after three tough losses. It gives us confidence.”
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 28 points. He became the first player to score 11,000 points with the Raptors.
Atlanta won the season series 2-1 and would win a head-to-head tiebreaker if needed to determine a playoff position. Toronto is two games ahead of the Hawks in the race for home-court advantage in the first round.
DeRozan said the loss is “definitely something we can overcome” in the conference race.
“From five on up, it’s all right there,” he said. “It’s going to be a battle to the end.”
Paul Millsap had 21 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 for Atlanta.
Toronto’s Serge Ibaka, who had 18 points, scored to make it 86-all, the 17th tie of the game.
Schroder then took over the game, scoring back-to-back baskets and eight of Atlanta’s next 10 points in a stretch that gave the Hawks a 96-88 lead.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey said the inability to contain Schroder was part of a “tough stretch defensively.”
“I thought, other than that, we were competing,” Casey said.
Schroder’s run was capped by a reverse layup after he drove the baseline.
The Raptors led 75-74 entering the final period but a 3-pointer by Hardaway gave Atlanta an 81-77 lead.
Toronto quickly regained the lead. The Raptors took advantage of a turnover by Hawks rookie Taurean Price to regain the lead at 83-82 on a tip-in by Norman Powell.
Toronto: DeRozan needed only five points to reach 11,000. He made one of two free throws with 4:37 remaining in the first half to reach the milestone. … After missing one game with a left ankle sprain, F DeMarre Carroll started and had 11 points in his return to his former NBA home. … Ibaka drew his sixth foul with 1:38 remaining. … Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Atlanta: Dwight Howard had 16 points and 10 rebounds. … The Hawks led 49-48 at halftime despite having no bench scoring. Backups scored 15 points in the second half. … Atlanta had 21 turnovers â€” 10 more than Toronto. … Shaquille O’Neal had a courtside seat.
The Raptors made only 4 of 25 3-point shots. DeRozan made only one of his eight 3s.
“We got a lot of looks,” DeRozan said.
“We encourage everybody, if you miss, keep shooting. Don’t think about the last miss, if you’ve got a wide-open shot, shoot it.”
Added Casey: “They have to take them. That’s their shot. … I believe in our shooters.”
Millsap has scored 20 or more points in five straight games.
“The whole team, we look to him a lot,” Sefolosha said. “He does a lot of things. He can score. He can pass the ball. He’s definitely our go-to guy. He’s feeling good and he’s doing everything for us out there.”
CAUGHT IN TRAFFIC
Atlanta’s challenging Friday traffic was blamed for an unexpected lineup change.
Coach Mike Budenholzer removed Sefolosha from the starting lineup after Sefolosha, caught in traffic, was late for pregame warmups. Sefolosha had four points in 25 minutes.
Budenholzer said the lineup change was for just one game.
Hardaway replaced Sefolosha in the lineup.
Toronto: Continues five-game road trip when it visits Miami on Saturday.
Atlanta: Visits Memphis on Saturday.
Charles Odum, The Associated Press