The Atlanta Hawks' stellar start has been derailed by a few recent stumbles, but they'll have a good chance to get back on track as they return home to face a team experiencing bigger problems.The Toronto Raptors will be trying to avoid a fifth straight loss and reverse a recent trend of flat performances when playing on consecutive nights when they visit Atlanta on Wednesday.
The Hawks (12-5) won their first seven home games and led the Eastern Conference on Nov. 20, but they've since dropped three of four to slip behind Orlando in the Southeast Division.
The team's perfect home record was tarnished with a 93-76 loss to the Magic on Thursday, but the most disheartening defeat may have been a 94-88 loss at Detroit on Sunday. Atlanta, which averages 42.5 rebounds, got outrebounded 53-27 by the Pistons.
"When you get beat like that on the boards, you aren't going to beat many teams in this league," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We just didn't compete today. We've been a team that has always been full of effort, and today we got outworked and I'm embarrassed."
The Hawks have also had problems offensively lately, failing to reach 90 points in any of their three recent losses. After averaging 25.6 trips to the free throw line in the first 13 games, they've been held to 13.0 free throw attempts per game in their last four, including just eight against Detroit.
Leading scorer Joe Johnson did not get to the line Sunday and had his worst shooting performance of the season, going 5 of 19 (26.3 percent) from the field and missing all five of his 3-point attempts.
Atlanta will hope for better results against the Raptors, who are allowing 109.1 points per game - more than every NBA team except Golden State. Toronto's opponents have scored at least 100 in each of the last 10 games, with the Raptors going 2-8 in that stretch.
Toronto (7-12) has also lost five straight on the road, and is 0-3 when playing the second half of a back-to-back this season with those losses coming by an average of more than 25 points.
Coach Jay Triano's team will try to defy that trend after getting outscored 34-25 in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's 106-102 home loss to Washington.
"We've gotta try to finish the games, try to play for a full game," said point guard Jose Calderon, whose club lost for the third time when leading after three quarters. "We've been talking about that all season."
While Chris Bosh had 22 points and 14 rebounds, he was just 7 of 22 from the field. Hedo Turkoglu had even bigger problems, missing his first six shots in the final quarter Tuesday. In his first season with Toronto, he's averaging 13.8 points - 3.0 below his average last season with Orlando.
"I'm not going to take the ball out of his hands," Triano said. "He's a guy who has made plays in the past, and he feels as bad about it as anybody. We do it again and we give him the basketball. He's a guy who can make plays for people."
Toronto dropped three of four to the Hawks last season, including both meetings in Atlanta.
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