Looking for their second win in as many preseason contests, the Orlando Magic welcomed the Atlanta Hawks to the Amway Center on Sunday night. Despite the Hawks resting most of their starters, the Magic were unable to put it all together, falling to the Hawks 105-98.
After getting off to a sluggish start against the Indiana Pacers on Friday, the Magic's starters looked much more comfortable early on against the Hawks. With the Hawks resting four of their five starters, the Magic were able to take care of the ball, turning it over just once, showing continued chemistry on both ends. As has been the case early in games thus far in preseason, Evan Fournier got off to a strong start, scoring five of the Magic's first seven, finishing with eight first quarter points. The Magic's defense swarmed the Hawks, holding them to 36 percent, with the tandem of Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka showing what makes them a dangerous pairing.
Turning to their modified second unit, the Magic were unable to get the same impact they had their previous two games. The unit, which was missing Jeff Green (rest) and Biyombo, who started for Nikola Vucevic, couldn't get any traction, struggling on the defensive end, while seeing turnovers slowly rack up offensively. D.J. Augustin, fresh off of a day off on Friday, kept his strong play going, scoring 10 points and giving the Magic some good play defensively. Despite being down four starters, the Hawks were able to exploit the Magic, fighting their way back to tie the game at 53 at the half.
Following halftime, things didn't get much better for the Magic. Their offense continued to struggle, while the Hawks' hot shooting continued, helping the Hawks to a lead as big as 11. Fournier and Ibaka continued their strong play, combining for nearly half of the Magic's 21 third quarter points. Elfrid Payton, who has struggled since returning from a hip flexor injury, appeared to be getting more comfortable, running the offense, and knocking down a couple of jump shots. After 36 minutes, the host Magic found themselves down six, 80-74 to the shorthanded Hawks.
Trying to find some more continuity with their lineups, and learn how to close out games, the Magic stuck with their starters for much of the fourth quarter. Despite that, the Hawks were able to keep the pressure on the Magic, not allowing clean looks on one end, while getting good shot attempts on many of their possessions on the other. At the end, the Magic couldn't muster enough late, despite a late push behind Ibaka.
Paul Millsap led the charge for the Hawks, scoring 19 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing seven assists in his preseason debut. Tim Hardaway Jr finished with 19 of his own, while Thabo Sefolosha added 15. Rookie Taurean Prince finished the night with 13 of his own.
Ibaka led all scorers, finishing with 25 points on the night. Fournier added 22, with Payton finishing with 14, including a pair of three-pointers. Augustin rounded Magic men in double figures, scoring 12 off the bench. Making his first start at center, Biyombo grabbed 19 rebounds to go with seven points and five blocks.