NBA

Raptors halt Hawks' late 4th-quarter run for victory in MLK Day matinee

Norman Powell scored 27 points, including 17 in the final period, and the Toronto Raptors withstood Atlanta's late charge to beat the Hawks 122-117 on Monday.

Norman Powell puts up 27 points off the bench as Toronto wins 4th straight

Toronto's Fred VanVleet drives past Atlanta's Kevin Huerter, centre, and John Collins, right, during the first half of the Raptors' 122-117 win over the Hawks on Monday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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 on Monday.

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.

WATCH | Powell sparks Raptors past Hawks:

Norman Powell scored 27 points off the bench in Toronto's 122-117 win in Atlanta on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 1:30

"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.

'Don't let him touch it'

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 six of nine 3s.

"He was dialed in there, for sure," Nurse said.

Back and forth

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.

Pierce said the holiday to honour the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is special to Atlanta, King's hometown. "The significance of the day here in Atlanta goes without saying," Pierce said, adding King is "the most important figure in the history of our city."

Nurse said he hopes young players use the day to learn more about King.

"Hopefully this is an educational day for them," Nurse said.

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