The Atlanta Hawks enjoyed a much better 2015-16 season than the Orlando Magic. Atlanta finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals while the Magic missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
For two days in early-February however, the Magic were a thorn in Atlanta’s side. One day after Nikola Vucevic hit the game-winner for the Magic in Orlando, they rallied from 20 points down to beat the Hawks in overtime at Philips Arena, 117-110.
The Hawks were 30-23 as they made the short trip back from Orlando on Feb. 8, 2016. Orlando was just 22-28. For much of the night, the scoreboard seemed to reflect the teams’ records.
With less than three minutes to play in the first quarter, the Magic were on the short end of a 28-8 score. Orlando was able to get as close as seven in the second quarter, but the Atlanta lead was double digits most of the way. At the end of three, the Hawks led 83-72.
The day prior, it was the Magic who led by 11 after three quarters before Atlanta drew even in the final minute. Orlando would win the game on Vucevic’s game-winner, but the Hawks could not find those heroics the following night in Atlanta.
Vucevic scored 25 of his game-high 28 points after halftime and was key in the Orlando comeback. The center scored six points as the Magic opened the final quarter on a 22-9 run to take their first lead of the night. That came on a basket and a three-pointer from Mario Hezonja.
Orlando led 96-94, but the final three-plus minutes would feature two ties and three lead changes. With 14 seconds to go, Hezonja again came up with a clutch three-pointer to give the Magic a 101-100 lead.
Paul Millsap however, was able to get to the free throw line on the ensuing Atlanta possession with a chance to put the Hawks back in front with 11 seconds to go. Millsap split a pair of free throws, but prevented the Magic from winning in regulation with a block on Victor Oladipo’s winning attempt before the buzzer sounded.
To overtime, the teams went.
The Magic seized control to start the extra period with a 6-0 run. Field goals from Hezonja and Vucevic bookended a pair of Aaron Gordon free throws. Vucevic would add five free throws of his own during the extra period, but back-to-back three-pointers from Millsap and Kyle Korver drew the Hawks to within two.
Enter Evan Fournier.
With 31 seconds remaining and the shot clock winding down, Fournier knocked down a critical three-pointer to put the Magic up 115-110. Atlanta never scored again as the Magic left with their second win over Atlanta in as many nights.
To go with Vucevic’s 28 points and 13 rebounds, guard Elfrid Payton tallied 20 points, seven assists and three steals for the Magic. Fournier added 16 points while Hezonja and Jason Smith each added 14. Gordon tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.
Al Horford paced Atlanta with 27 points while Millsap and Jeff Teague added 22 and 21 points, respectively. Millsap grabbed 13 rebounds before fouling out in overtime.
The victory pulled the Magic to within five games of .500, but that’s as close as they would get for the remainder of the season. It also gave Orlando its biggest comeback win of the season. It happened on this day five years ago.