Hawks hope to improve playoff status vs. Raptors - Fox News

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Hawks hope to improve playoff status vs. Raptors - Fox News
Apr 15th 2012, 15:34

The Atlanta Hawks are still in the running for homecourt advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, but still have work to do.

The Hawks are seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games behind the Indiana Pacers and one game in front of the Orlando Magic, and will begin a home-and-home series with the Toronto Raptors tonight from Philips Arena.

Atlanta, which will close out the regular season with six of seven games at home, is coming off Friday's 109-81 blasting of the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Jannero Pargo buried five three-pointers en route to a game-high 17 points, while Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams scored 16 points apiece.

"If we keep getting bench production like that over the next six or seven games going into the playoffs, we are going to be a scary ball club in the postseason," Smith said on the Hawks' website.

Hawks starting center Zaza Pachulia suffered a sprained ankle late in the second quarter and did not return for the second half. He had eight points and four rebounds before leaving with the injury, and will miss Sunday's game.

The Hawks have won three in a row at home and are 19-8 as the host. They will visit Toronto on Monday before returning home for five games.

Toronto will play four of five games on the road and was able to halt a four- game losing streak with an 84-79 victory versus Boston Friday night.

DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points and Linas Kleiza added 17 for the Raptors, who were playing without Andrea Bargnani (calf) and Jose Calderon (lacerated eyebrow). Calderon is expected to miss tonight's game and Bargnani is done for the season. Bargnani exited Sunday's game in Oklahoma City early in the second quarter with tightness in his left calf. He missed a combined 27 games this season due to recurring issues with the leg and averaged 19.5 ppg.

"I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to go to the basket," said DeRozan. "That's what it's all about, making it to the basket and making free throws."

The Raptors will end the regular season with three straight games on the road after hosting Atlanta up north. They have dropped the first two meetings with Atlanta this season and six straight overall. The Hawks are 10-1 in the last 11 matchups between the teams and unbeaten in the past seven as the host.

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