After a heat breaking loss at the buzzer on Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic returned to action for the front end of a home-and-home with the division rival Atlanta Hawks. Despite struggling on offense for much of the game, the Hawks found a way to pull it out late, notching their ninth straight victory, 87-81.
Out of the gates, both teams had things clicking offensively. Atlanta moved the ball flawlessly, dishing out 11 assists on 12 first quarter buckets, getting good looks on almost every shot. Orlando, on the other hand, used it's dribble penetration to open up shots from the outside, and driving lanes later in the quarter. Both teams shot an extremely high percentage from the field, with the Magic making 10-of-17 for 58.8 percent, and the Hawks making 12-of-19 for a blistering 63.2 percent. Victor Oladipo led all scorers with nine, while Al Horford led the way for the Hawks, scoring eight in the first 12 minutes.
Following an offensive outburst in the first quarter, both teams struggled mightily in the second. After combining for 55 opening quarter points, the divisional foes combined for 25 points on a woeful 9-of-44 from the field. The Magic struggled with turnovers, coughing it up 10 times, but the Hawks had limited success converting off those miscues, scoring just eight points off turnovers. Horford built off his strong first quarter to finish with 12 points to lead all scorers in the first half. Oladipo, who was in foul trouble for part of the half, was joined by backcourt mate Evan Fournier, who knocked down a three late in the period to notch nine points at halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the Magic looked poised to take control of the game for good. Their offense was clicking once again as they pushed their lead to a game high 12 points. Atlanta made some changes, and ratcheted up their defense, which helped get their offense going and allow them to storm back and tie the game thanks to an 11-0 run to end the quarter. Orlando's starting backcourt continued to play at a high level, with Oladipo pushing his point total to 19, and Fournier 16 in the quarter. Paul Millsap led the way for the Hawks, posting 18 points through three quarters.
With the game up for grabs, the Hawks stepped up. After making just 1-of-13 shots from beyond the arc in the first half, the Hawks found their groove, knocking down 8-of-15, including 3-of-7 in the fourth quarter. The Hawks balanced attack late proved to be too much, as the Magic, outside of Oladipo and Fournier, couldn't get much going on the offensive end. The Magic got the lead down to two, but the Hawks made their free throws, ending any hope the Magic had of getting a victory.
The Hawks were carried by their starters, with four of the five finishing in double figures. Millsap had a big second half, en route to a game high 23 points. Horford, who got them going early, ended up 17 points and seven assists. Jeff Teague, who was benched in the third quarter for poor play, finished with 13 points and five assists. DeMarre Carroll struggled from the field, but was still able to finish with 12 points.
Like the Hawks, the Magic were carried by their starters, with four finishing in double figures. The backcourt of Oladipo and Fournier combined for 39 points, with 21 coming from Oladipo and 18 from Fournier. Both Tobias Harris and Kyle O`Quinn notched double-doubles on the night. O`Quinn, starting in place of Nikola Vucevic once again, finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Harris, who was in foul trouble for much of it, finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.