The Orlando Magic nearly upset the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, but fell by an 86-80 final. Josh Smith, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, tallied 18 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, a steal, and five blocked shots to carry Atlanta, which held on for the narrow victory after squandering a 19-point lead.
The Hawks started the game with a 16-2 run, which lead ought to have buried the Magic for good, given that Orlando owns the league's second-worst offense. But Orlando rallied in the second half, and that it only lost by six is a testament to its resolve, if not its talent. It also attests to the Hawks' attitude; as Magic color-commentator Matt Guokas noted throughout the telecast, Atlanta's body language, specifically that of point guard Jeff Teague, left much to be desired.
Orlando first made the game interesting in the second quarter, even taking a one-point lead on a J.J. Redick jumper at the 6:36 mark. It trailed by just three points with 2:20 to go, but Atlanta closed the period on a 9-0 run. Orlando's possessions during that stretch included back-to-back turnovers by E'Twaun Moore and Gustavo Ayon, which sequence Ayón then followed by airballing a layup attempt.
Redick had two great three-point looks which would have brought Orlando within three points in the game's final 15 seconds, but each one rattled out. Notably, coach Jacque Vaughn went with a new, incredibly small lineup into the game as Orlando tried to rally: he surrounded Glen Davis at center with three-point shooters Jameer Nelson, Moore, Redick, and Arron Afflalo.
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