The Hawks built an 18-point lead late in the third quarter, then held off a Raptors comeback in the final period. Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver had 17 points apiece, while Paul Millsap added 15.
Budenholzer, a long-time assistant in San Antonio, coached hard right to the end, arguing with the officials over a kicked-ball ruling even with the game in hand. When the horn sounded, he gave a quick wave to Raptors coach Dwane Casey, hugged Elton Brand and headed to the locker room with a big smile.
The Raptors lost despite 31 points from DeMar DeRozan.
Toronto made a game of it in the closing minutes, but the Hawks stemmed the comeback with a crucial sequence.
Horford scored on a running hook in the lane, Toronto’s Amir Johnson missed an easy putback, and the home team took off running. Teague found Millsap all alone under the basket, and he held up long enough to lay it in and draw a foul. Even though Millsap missed the free throw, Atlanta led 93-84 with 3:22 remaining.
The Raptors never got any closer than six points the rest of the way.
Atlanta has undergone a massive makeover during the past two summers, leaving Horford and Teague as the only players who have been with the team more than two seasons. This year, the Hawks added a new coach as well.
Seven of the 12 players who suited up Friday were making their home debuts in an Atlanta uniform, prompting one season-ticket holder sitting behind press row to remark, “I don’t know who half these guys are.”
But the fans liked what they he saw, especially in the second half as the Hawks pulled away to a 70-52 lead.
DeRozan hit 14 of 23 from the field, nearly bringing the Raptors all the way back. Kyle Lowry scored 16 points, Rudy Gay 14 and Johnson 13.
But Horford carried the Hawks at both ends of the court and Teague ran the offense just the way Budenholzer wants, dishing out 12 assists and committing only one turnover.
While the Hawks opened the season with 118-109 loss at Dallas, the Raptors were coming off a 93-87 victory over Boston in their home opener. But Toronto came up short in the bid for its first 2-0 start since 2008. After letting the Mavericks run wild, Atlanta limited the Raptors to just eight fast-break points.
Neither team led by more than four points until the Hawks suddenly broke off a quick spurt in the final minute of the first half.
Cartier Martin knocked down a 3-pointer, Pero Antic also connected from beyond the arc and Teague finished it off with a thunderous dunk as the clock wound down, sending Atlanta to the locker room with a 49-39 lead.
NOTES: Kyle Korver extended his 3-point streak to 75 regular-season games, knocking down two treys in the first quarter. It is the longest active run in the league. ... Raptors F Steve Novak woke up with a sore back and did not suit up. ... The announced attendance was 18,118, supposedly a sellout, though there were thousands of empty seats in Philips Arena.