The Toronto Raptors are becoming whole again, which is bad news for the Atlanta Hawks, who visit the Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday night.
The Raptors (30-12) defeated two hot teams on Saturday and Sunday, when they won at Milwaukee and at home over the Indiana. Atlanta (12-27) defeated Miami 106-82 Sunday to end a three-game losing streak.
Toronto's All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry returned to action Sunday after missing six consecutive games with a sore back and 10 of 11 games overall. But the Raptors did not have Kawhi Leonard in action Sunday. He rested after playing 38 minutes against the Bucks and has yet to play in both ends of a back-to-back set.
The team is being cautious with Leonard, who barely played last season because of a quadriceps injury.
Both are expected to play against the Hawks. Lowry scored 12 points and added eight assists against Indiana.
"Very good leadership, right? You can just sense an organized attack at both ends," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Lowry. "There are some breakdowns here and there, but that's what he does. He does a 4-for-10, 12 points and eight assists, but there are about 32 other things out there that you aren't seeing and that don't get recorded on the stat sheet."
Lowry tried to deflect some of the focus by referring to the game in Milwaukee.
"(Saturday) night was unbelievable in Milwaukee," Lowry said. "The guys played their (butts) off. ... Our bench didn't have a great night, but (Sunday) they stepped up and that's what I would say. It's not an individual team sport. It's a team game and (Sunday) was a great effort from everybody. I think eight double-figure scorers is pretty good."
Norman Powell led the scoring with a season-best 23 points off the bench. Other double-digit scorers were Serge Ibaka (18), Danny Green (15), Pascal Siakam (12), Fred VanVleet (12), Greg Monroe (11) and Delon Wright (10). Siakam also had 10 rebounds to record his seventh double-double of the season.
Powell said the bench players realized they had to improve after the game in Milwaukee.
"Yeah, definitely, we talked about it," he said. "The bench production was pretty much non-existent, so (Sunday) we talked about it -- coming out, setting the tone, bringing the energy and playing our game. We didn't play our game in Milwaukee; we were playing sped up and in a hurry. (Sunday) we were able to let our defense do the talking for our offense, and we were able to get some easy looks on offense with our defense early on."
The Raptors have won five in a row against the Hawks, including the only meeting this season, a 124-108 verdict Nov. 21 in Atlanta. In that game, former Raptor Vince Carter passed 25,000 career points.
On Sunday for the Hawks, Trae Young scored 19 points and John Collins scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Young also received a signed jersey from retiring Heat star Dwyane Wade, whose son Zaire is a friend of the Hawks rookie.
"I texted him and I was like, 'I need it for the last time in the ATL,'" Young said. "He said, 'I already got it planned.' It was cool to talk to him."
The Hawks are without guard Kent Bazemore, who has a sprained right ankle. That meant DeAndre' Bembry got the starting role and scored 17 points against Miami. Jeremy Lin came off the bench, scoring 15 points and recording his 500th career steal.
Before losing three in a row, the Hawks had won five of their previous six games.
"We're a young team with a new coaching staff," Collins recently told reporters. "It's all about getting together as a group and figuring it out. I think we have been."
Miles Plumlee (left knee pain) and Taurean Prince (left ankle sprain) also have been out for the Hawks.
Updated January 7, 2019