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Toronto Raptors

Four takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' 119-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks

The Toronto Raptors got their 40th win of the season on Thursday, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 119-101.

After giving up 66 points the Hawks in the first half, Toronto dug in defensively and held Atlanta to just 33% shooting from the field in the second-half.

MORE: Did the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers or Milwaukee Bucks make the best move of the trade deadline?

The Raptors are now 2-0 on their three-game road trip, with the Knicks on deck in New York on Saturday night. With only three games remaining before the All-Star break, Toronto sits just one game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the league. The Bucks, however, hold the tiebreaker due to winning the season series.

Here are four takeaways from Thursday night's Raptors' win.

Digging deep

The Raptors had a slow start to the game, falling behind by 11 points by the end of the first quarter and trailing by as many as 17 in the first half.

Maybe it was somewhat of a trade deadline hangover or finding out that Kawhi Leonard would be sitting out his 15th game just minutes before tip. We'll never know, but the energy just wasn't there from the get-go.

But once Toronto got into the flow of the game, they turned up the pressure defensively and made it tough for the Hawks in the halfcourt. They turned a 17-point deficit to a 21-point lead late in the fourth quarter en route to the win.

Toronto has been praised for their depth all season long, but it was on full display on Thursday with only nine active bodies available on their bench. This win in Atlanta will be one of the better wins of the Raptors' season when we look back on it - on the road, short-handed, an emotional trade deadline and they made no excuses and ended up with a double-digit victory.

Pascal Siakam's career night

Pascal Siakam stepped up when the Raptors needed him most.

With a limited amount of bodies, Siakam knew he would not only have to play a ton of minutes, but those minutes would have to be highly productive. He delivered, finishing with his career-high 33 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.

While his offence was incredible all night long, it was his defence - which largely goes unnoticed at times - that made the difference for Toronto. Siakam had two steals and a block on Thursday.

He made life tough for every Hawk he guarded on the perimeter and was challenging every shot he could at the rim.

When Siakam locks in defensively, he makes the Raptors an elite team on that end of the floor. The only problem is Raptors' fans haven't seen him lock in defensively every night - at times that can be frustrating considering his ability.

Fred VanVleet steps up

Fred VanVleet is just Mr. Reliable. Whether he has to start, come off the bench, defend at a high level or help close a game, VanVleet has always risen to the occasion.

MORE: How major trades impact the Toronto Raptors

On Thursday, Toronto needed scoring from FVV and like Siakam, he finished with a career-high 30 points shooting 50% from the field.

FVV was also a team-high plus-32. Steady Freddy got it done and it's really no surprise.

Pace control

The Hawks play at the fastest pace in the league but were unable to make it a track meet on Thursday.

Toronto limited their turnovers, committing just eight all game long. They also shot the ball well from the field, finishing the night at 46%.

And despite missing most of their frontcourt, they were able to get on the offensive glass (12 off-rebs) and keep Atlanta from sprinting down the court in transition.

Thursday's performance was the perfect recipe to neutralize one of the league's fastest teams.

Honourable Mention

Kyle Lowry heard his name in trade rumours all week leading up to Thursday's deadline and in the end, he's still a Raptor. On Thursday he reminded Toronto fans why he's the heart and soul of the team, finishing with 13 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds.

There can be chaos around Lowry, but on game day he'll always show up.

Vince Carter finished with nine points, two rebounds and a block in 16 minutes on Thursday. He also passed Jerry West for 25th on the all-time scoring list.

Another accolade in an incredible Hall-of-Fame worthy career.

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