‘Monster’ Prince breaks loose against Raptors

  • Paul Attfield
  • Special to the AJC
Dec 29, 2017
Cole Burston/AP
Toronto Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas, right, defends as Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder (17) drives to the net during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, in Toronto. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)

Toronto -- After averaging just 9.25 points per game over his previous four outings, the career-high 30 points that Taurean Prince erupted with during the Hawks’ 111-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night would have seemed unlikely at best.

However, after connecting on 12 of 16 from the field, to go along with 5 of 6 from beyond the arc and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, the second-year forward said he could feel it coming.

“If you check the past few games I’ve been 1 for 7, 2 for 8 [from 3-point range],” he said. “Pretty bad games in my opinion so I was due for a game like this.”

His five 3-pointers tied the career high he set against the Memphis Grizzlies back on December 15, and added to his career-long streak, which now sits at 17 games with at least one field goal from beyond the arc.

While the 23-year-old said it was just a matter of being in open spots and allowing his teammates to find him, some of those same teammates said that given the way he’s been playing of late, this kind of explosion was bound to happen sooner or later.

“He’s been playing like a monster the last couple of games so I was expecting something like this,” said John Collins. “I wish we could have had it in a win, I think he had 30 and 10. A hell of a game. He keeps on playing like that he’s going to do very well in this league.”

For a player that came into the game averaging 12.7 points per game and 5.4 rebounds, head coach Mike Budenholzer is more than happy with the development curve of the youngster, taken with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 draft. 

“Taurean got better tonight,” Budenholzer said. “He’s a young player that’s growing with each night and a night like tonight there’s a lot of positives, lot of things to learn from and I think we’re pleased with the way he’s playing and I think the 10 boards is huge.”