Despite staging a huge comeback, the Orlando Magic fell to the Atlanta Hawks, 112-109, on Wednesday for their 12th defeat in their last 13 games. The season series between the teams concludes with a 2-2 split.
Magic point guard Jameer Nelson put together another fine performance, finishing with 17 points and seven assists, but it was Victor Oladipo who shone for the home team: the rookie from Indiana needed just 34 minutes to post 24 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Doron Lamb scored 10 of his season-high 13 points in the second half to ignite a Magic comeback.
Atlanta built its lead to as much as 11 in the first half thanks to its hot shooting, particularly in the paint: with Jeff Teague setting the tempo, the Hawks had no problems getting into the lane and scoring against Orlando's lack of shot-blocking. The Hawks also exploited the Magic's lack of size on the offensive glass, getting six offensive rebounds in 18 first-half opportunities.
But Orlando used a strong second quarter to get back into the game, closing to within four at halftime thanks to three Nelson foul shots with 0.7 seconds remaining on the clock; the veteran point guard baited Louis Williams into committing a silly foul on a deep heave.
Orlando began the third quarter with a renewed emphasis on protecting the paint, but that protection came with a cost: the Hawks got hot from the outside, going 5-of-9 on threes in the third quarter alone. The downpour started early on, just after an Oladipo tip-in brought the Magic to within a point: four of the Hawks' next five makes over the next 4:27 came from beyond the arc.
After falling behind by 19 in the third quarter, the Magic crept their way back into the game, fittingly by scoring in multiples of three. A three-point play from Oladipo started the 12-4 spurt, which continued with triples from Lamb, Oladipo, and Maurice Harkless, bringing the Magic to within eight at the end of the third. Oladipo assisted on the Lamb and Harkless triples.
Lamb continued to give the Magic his best minutes of the season, draining three consecutive shots early in the fourth quarter, the last of which trimmed Atlanta's lead to one. On the next possession, Harkless drove to his right and found Kyle O'Quinn for a dunk, giving the Magic their first lead of the game 40 minutes and five seconds into it. O'Quinn stripped Teague seconds later, leading to a Harkless run-out dunk which brought the announced Amway Center crowd of 16,713 to its feet.
The Hawks regained the lead at the 1:42 mark when a Millsap three-point play against Tobias Harris gave it a 106-105 edge. Oladipo beat Teague off the dribble on Orlando's ensuing possession and floated in a shot in to put the Magic back on top.
The lead didn't last long: a pair of foul shots from Pero Antić gave the visitors a 110-109 advantage with 22.8 seconds to play.
After Nelson wound some clock and drove the lane, Davis fired off a fading jumper which badly missed the mark. Antić rebounded and drew a loose-ball foul from Harris, sinking both foul shots to put Atlanta up three. After a Magic timeout, Nelson missed a wild three-point attempt at the buzzer, ending Orlando's hopes of winning.