An early Trae Young three-point make gave the Atlanta Hawks a 3-0 lead thirty seconds into Friday night’s game against the Orlando Magic.
It was all downhill for the Hawks from there.
The Magic, now just within reach of clinching their first playoff-berth since 2012, took care of business in dominating fashion to finish their regular season home schedule on a nine-game winning streak with an impressive 149-113 win over the Hawks.
Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Terrence Ross each scored 25 points apiece to lead Orlando.
The Magic shot 61% from the field (56-92) as they set a season-high mark in points scored. The 149 points were the third-highest total in franchise history, and the most since February 20th, 1995.
It’s been since the ‘08-’09 season that the Magic have won nine or more games in a row at home.
The energy inside the Amway Center was incredible from the opening tip, and the Magic really seemed to feed off the fans on “Fan Appreciation Night”.
The Magic were scorching hot to begin the game, jumping out to a 32-7 lead over the Hawks. Orlando converted 13 of their first 15 attempts from the field.
Jonathan Isaac was particularly involved early, both offensively and defensively. Isaac showed tons of energy from the get-go, deflecting passes, jumping in passing lanes, running the floor, and diving for loose balls. Isaac also knocked down a couple early triples from each corner of the floor en route to 12 early points (3-3 FGA’s in first quarter, 4-4 FTA’s).
The Magic shot 64% in the opening period, and used a 21-6 early rebounding advantage to jump all over the Hawks.
“We shot the ball very well early,” Coach Clifford said after the game. “I think we got some fast-break points, which helps a lot too. We played with a lot of energy.”
Orlando fell two points shy of tying the all-time franchise record for first quarter points (44 points, set twice). The Magic had a real chance to break that record, but turned the ball over three consecutive times to close out the period.
Trae Young has had a great rookie season but he gotta retire now pic.twitter.com/D2xVsxRHLd— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) April 5, 2019
It was more of the same for Orlando in the second quarter. The Hawks struggled to stop the Magic, and had just as much difficulty getting much of anything going on the offensive end to speak of.
Khem Birch gave the frenetic home crowd something to go wild about early in the second quarter when he emphatically blocked Central Florida-native Vince Carter’s spinning layup attempt into the third row.
Ross got into the action in the second quarter in a big way. Back-to-back Ross three-point makes pushed Orlando’s lead to 36. Ross scored 17 points in the second quarter alone, knocking-down four shots from downtown in the period.
As a team, Orlando converted 7 of their first 10 three points attempts.
The Magic eclipsed their previous season-high for points in the first half with just under two minutes remaining in the second quarter, but they weren’t done.
A Jarell Martin dunk, Orlando’s 80th point of the first half, set an all-time Magic franchise record for points in the first half. The Magic would finish with 81 points in the game’s first 24 minutes, which resulted in a 33-point lead for Clifford’s bunch heading into the half.
The Hawks were unable to cut into Orlando’s lead in the third quarter. But the Magic didn’t extend their lead any further either. In an entertaining period, both teams played even (32-32).
Atlanta’s rookie point guard Trae Young, the fifth pick in last summer’s NBA Draft (one pick before the Magic selected), scored 8 of his 22 points in the third quarter, showing poise and creativity in the lane with his “floater” game.
Carter knocked down a couple triples for the Hawks in the third quarter as well. The 42 year-old veteran finished with 11 points in 21 minutes.
The Magic emptied their bench with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter following an Evan Fournier three-point make that put the team up by 34 points.
Orlando made 18 of 37 three’s in the contest (49%).
Isaac finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds.
“We had a lot of guys play well. I thought (Jonathan) Isaac was, on both ends, just unbelievable,” Clifford added after the game. “He came out well offensively, he hit the three. He was running the floor, I think he had like four deflections by himself in the first quarter. A lot of other guys were really good too, but before watching the film, he’s someone that really stood out to me.”
John Collins finished with 20 points for the Hawks in a losing effort.
The Magic will now play in Boston on Sunday, and then in Charlotte on Wednesday to close out their regular season.
And if all goes according to plan, Magic fans will have a couple more opportunities to support their team back in Orlando in a couple weeks.
“Tonight, this is like how it used to be to me,” Clifford said of the home crowd. “It’s loud, it becomes a difficult place to play. We have great fans, we have to play well. We have to play meaningful games and they can aid us a great deal.”