Coming off a lopsided loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, the Orlando Magic returned to action on Wednesday night against the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks. Despite being down much of the game, the Hawks rallied late, beating the Magic 95-83.
Prior to the game, the Magic got a much needed boost with the news that Tobias Harris, Dewayne Dedmon and Channing Frye would all return to the lineup after missing time with injuries and sickness. Much like Sunday night, the Magic got off to a good start, jumping out to a 12-4 lead early on. With Harris and Dedmon back in the starting lineup, the Magic's defense looked crisp, rotating and forcing the Hawks into tough shots and some sloppy possessions early. The Magic also had a fair amount of success on the offensive end, shooting 60 percent in the quarter. Victor Oladipo got off to a quick start, scoring 11 early points to lead all scorers. Paul Millsap scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Hawks.
With their bench in the game early in the second quarter, the Magic were able to slowly grow their lead to as many as 13. Slowly the bench began to struggle, forcing coach James Borrego to put his starters back in the game. Even with his starters in the game, the Magic began to falter, with their offense going through periods of struggle. Despite struggling on the offensive end, they were able to continue to have some success on the defensive end, despite the Hawks slowly settling down and getting more comfortable in the flow of the game. Millsap continued to be the on Hawk playing exceptionally well, pushing his total to a game high 16 at the half. Oladipo was quiet during his stint in the second quarter, scoring just two points to finish with 13 in the opening half.
Out of halftime, things got ugly, and quick. No, the Magic didn't blow another halftime lead, both teams just began to play ugly, sloppy basketball. Neither team was able to find a real flow on the offensive end, struggling to score with any consistency. The two division foes combined for nine turnovers in the quarter, with the Magic shooting 7-of-20 and Atlanta 10-of-22. With the game the closest it had been since early in the first quarter, it was up for grabs heading into the final quarter of play. Millsap led the way for the Hawks with 23 points. Elfrid Payton carried the Magic's offense in the quarter, scoring 10 of his team high 16 in the period.
After Dennis Schroder opened the quarter with a three to tie the game for the Hawks, the Magic went on a quick 7-0 run to open up a 78-71 lead. Once up seven, the Magic began to crumble some, allowing the Hawks to cut the lead down to one with under five minutes to play. A layup from Jeff Teague gave the Hawks their first lead since jumping out 2-0. After an Oladipo turnover, Schroder hit a three to give the Hawks their biggest lead at four with just over three minutes to play. Sparked by hot shooting, the Hawks went on a 13-0 run to grab a 93-81 lead with just under a minute and a half to play, ending the Magic's chances of getting the win.
Six Hawks finished in double figures, led by Millsap's game high 25 points and 11 rebounds. Despite injuring his ankle early in the game, Jeff Teague returned to finish with 16 points and nine assists. Kyle Korver added 13, with DeMarre Carroll and Schroder finishing with 11 each. Al Horford rounded out their group, finishing with 10.
Payton once again led the Magic's charge, finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic finished with 16 each, with Vucevic adding 11 rebounds. In his return Harris added 14, with Andrew Nicholson scoring 11 off the bench.