Hoping for a two-game winning streak for the first time in over three months, the Orlando Magic struggled with their offensive execution, in addition to their poor free throw shooting and turnovers, in the Atlanta Hawks' 97-88 victory.
Power forward Ivan Johnson led a strong effort from the Atlanta reserves, tying for game-high scoring honors with 21 points with 10 rebounds. The 21 points tied Johnson's career-high, as he came into the game averaging less than six points per game. Starting power forward Josh Smith also scored 21 points, along with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Four of five starters scored in double figures for the Magic, led by point guard Beno Udrih with 20 points, along with 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Udrih, subbing for injured starter Jameer Nelson, made just 8 of 23 shots from the field. Center Nik Vucevic, returning after missing several games with a concussion, had a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds, along with two steals and a block.
Atlanta outshot Orlando 44 percent to 39 percent from the field, and 74 percent to 59 percent from the free throw line. The Hawks outscored the Magic by just two points, 74-72 from the field, and were outscored 44-36 in the paint by the Magic, but the Hawks' 23-16 advantage at the free throw line helped them to their nine-point margin of victory. Nineteen Magic turnovers, eleven of them in the second half, also hurt their cause as the Hawks scored 22 points off the Magic turnovers.
Atlanta's reserves, led by Johnson's strong effort, outscored Orlando's reserves 38-15. Rookie Andrew Nicholson scored 9 points in 12 minutes to lead the reserves, while rookie center Kyle O'Quinn fouled out, scoring just 2 points.
Orlando started out the game well, going on a 17-4 run to lead 19-11 after a 3-point play from guard DeQuan Jones with 4:31 remaining, and led 27-23 after one quarter. Udrih scored ten of his points to lead the Magic.
The Hawks held the Magic to just seven points in the first seven minutes of the second quarter, as they retook the lead 40-34. The Magic then allowed the Hawks to score just five points in the final five minutes of the half, as the Hawks held a slim 45-44 lead at intermission after a Smith putback layup just before the buzzer. Orlando shot 38 percent for the half, while Atlanta shot 40 percent. Vucevic had 11 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Magic.
In a low-scoring third quarter, Orlando shot only 31 percent from the floor and 56 percent from the free throw line, while committing eight turnovers, as the Hawks built a 67-60 lead going into the final quarter.
The Magic came as close as 67-64 in the final quarter with over ten minutes remaining, but could come no closer as Atlanta built their lead to as much as 14 points, and maintained a double-digit lead for most of the final eight minutes of the game. Orlando did come to within 95-88 with 38 seconds remaining after a Nicholson putback and two Udrih free throws, but an Anthony Tolliver dunk closed out the scoring. The Hawks scored 30 points on 59 percent shooting in the final quarter.
Rookie Maurice Harkless added 17 points for Orlando, though he was just 4 of 8 on free throws, while forward Tobias Harris had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds, but struggled from the floor, shooting 5 of 18.
Orlando continues its tough five-game road trip Monday evening with a date in Houston.