The Associated Press
ATLANTA–Norman Powell says nothing has changed, even though he’s in the best streak of his highest-scoring season.
It may feel normal to the Toronto Raptors’ sixth man. The results definitely look different.
Powell scored 27 points, including 17 in the final period, and the Raptors withstood Atlanta’s late charge to beat the Hawks 122-117 yesterday.
Trae Young had 42 points and season-high 15 assists for Atlanta.
Powell has scored 20 or more points in five straight games, the longest stretch of his career. He is averaging 15.8 points per game. The previous best mark of his five-year career was 8.6 last season.
“I’m just taking the same shots I’ve been taking,” Powell said after Toronto’s fourth straight win. “I have confidence in my game, confidence in my shot.”
The high-scoring streak came after Powell missed 11 games with a left shoulder injury.
Toronto led 112-91 before surviving a late comeback by the Hawks, who pulled within two points at 117-115. Fred VanVleet, who had 20 points, sank three free throws with 14.2 seconds remaining after he was fouled by John Collins, pushing the lead to five.
Powell had only 10 points through three quarters before finding his 3-point range in the final period to lead Toronto’s productive second unit.
“It was just him being him,” Young said of Powell. “He’s a great scorer . . . It’s tough when he gets going.”
Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said the best strategy against Powell was “don’t let him touch it.”
The backups were on the floor when Toronto made its comeback in the third quarter and remained in the game for most of the final period.
“The second unit came in and did a great job,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “They took a big deficit to a really big lead. We needed it all at the end.”
Young’s four-point play cut Toronto’s lead to 114-107 with 1:39 remaining. Collins’ layup reduced the deficit to two points.
Powell made three straight 3s to lead the Raptors’ decisive surge early in the final period. After Serge Ibaka added a 3, Powell continued his hot streak with another long-range shot, this one a 27-footer.
Powell made 6 of 9 3s.
“He was dialed in there, for sure,” Nurse said.
Pascal Siakam scored 18 points for the Raptors.
Toronto scored the first nine points and quickly stretched the lead to 12 points, at 34-22, in the first period. But this would not be a runaway for the defending NBA champions.
Atlanta outscored Toronto 35-21 in the second period to lead 60-57 at halftime and then opened strong in the second half. The Hawks stretched the advantage to nine points, 70-61, on a 3-pointer by Cam Reddish.
Toronto hasn’t settled on its starting five, even after VanVleet’s second game of his return after missing five games with a hamstring injury.
“I think it’s going to be in constant shuffle the rest of the season,” Nurse said. “A lot of guys are worthy.”
Excluding Powell, the Raptors made only 7 of 33 3-pointers (21 percent).
The Raptors next return home to face Philadelphia tomorrow night.
In other NBA action yesterday, Washington dumped Detroit 106-100; Philadelphia dispatched Brooklyn 117-111; New York routed Cleveland 106-86; Oklahoma City grounded Houston 112-107; Miami outlasted Sacramento 118-113 (OT); Milwaukee bucked Chicago 111-98; New Orleans downed Memphis 126-116; Orlando crushed Charlotte 106-83; Boston creamed the L.A. Lakers 139-107; Denver soared over Minnesota 107-100; San Antonio shaded Phoenix 120-118; Utah pounded Indiana 118-88; and Portland got past Golden State 129-124 (OT).