Coming off a gut wrenching loss at home to their in-state rival Miami Heat, the Orlando Magic returned to action against the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks. After getting down big early, the Magic fought and clawed their way back to take a lead, but the Hawks were too much late, taking home a 95-88 win.
After a rocky finish on Wednesday night, the Magic had one of their worst starts of the season. After opening the scoring with a three from Victor Oladipo, the Magic watched as the Hawks went on a 19-to-0 run to blow the game open early. The Hawks run was aided by perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field, and 5-of-5 from deep. The Magic cut the Hawks lead some, thanks to an 8-to-2 run of their own. However, turnover issues and struggles to get good looks, coupled with poor defense, slowed the Magic's hopes of cutting the lead anymore. Paul Millsap lit the Magic up early, scoring 14 in the opening quarter, including four three-pointers. Oladipo led the Magic with six after 12 minutes.
Early in the second quarter, things continued to go horribly for the Magic. They continued to struggle to take care of the ball, and couldn't find any flow to their offense. However, as the quarter wore on, they began to find their rhythm, slowly chipping away at the Hawks' double digit lead. After tying the game up with just under two minutes to go in the half, the Magic finished the quarter strong, taking a three points lead into halftime. The Magic's defense looked locked in for almost the entire quarter, swarming the Hawks and forcing them into tough shots on many possessions. Millsap continued to lead all scorers with 16, with Tobias Harris' 12 leading the way for the Magic.
Out of halftime, the Magic continued to do a lot of good things on both ends of the floor. Their defense was forcing the Hawks into tough shots, with their offense running smoothly for the most part. As the quarter wore on, however, the Hawks began to find holes in the Magic's defense, getting good looks on more and more possessions. Their ability to spread the Magic out, coupled with taking care of the ball, helped them take control of the game once again, taking a nine point lead into the final quarter. Millsap led all scorers with 20 through three, with Oladipo's 17 leading the way for the Magic.
Into the final 12 minutes, the Magic had a chance to get one of their best wins of the season. Their defense continued it's strong play, but their offense struggled to get anything going, with many plays getting going late in the shot clock. With the game close, the two traded sloppy possessions late, with the Hawks holding onto a slim five point lead. The Magic were able to cut the Hawks lead down the three, but were unable to capitalize after a big offensive foul call on Millsap. A floater from Jeff Teague put the Hawks up with under 45 seconds to go, all but sealing the deal for the conference leading Hawks.
Four Hawks finished in double figures, led by Millsap's 20. After a slow start, Teague had a big second half, finishing with 17 points and seven assists. Al Horford finished with a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double, with DeMarre Carroll finishing the night with 15 after an injury scare in the first half.
The Magic also had four finish in double figures, led by Nikola Vucevic's game 21-point, 15-rebound double-double. Oladipo finished the night with 19 points. Harris added 15, with fellow starting forward Channing Frye adding 10 of his own.