The Atlanta Hawks gave another valiant effort Sunday night but fell short of their second straight comeback in a 109-102 loss to the Orlando Magic. Atlanta trailed by as many as 12 points in the first back before crawling all the way back to take the lead in the fourth. However, some late turnovers and the inability to get consistent stops on the defensive end proved costly down the stretch.
Fatigue could have also been a factor given that the Hawks were on the second night of a back-to-back and had played three consecutive overtime games. Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer wasn't ready to point to fatigue as a reason for the loss after the game and instead credited the Magic for their defensive effort.
"I don't know when fatigue comes in. Obviously, we had enough to come back and take the lead. I think you have to give Orlando credit more than anything. They made some plays and their defense picked up and we weren't able to execute."
In a lot of ways the game looked very similar to Saturday's effort against Charlotte. The difference was that Atlanta couldn't get enough stops late to ignite their offense. The Hawks played without Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll in the game and are likely to struggle on nights where Lou Williams and Paul Millsap are a combined 10-30 from the field.
Atlanta's three-point shooting did keep them close throughout but at some point they must be able to get some production in the paint. Atlanta hit 9-19 three-point attempts in the first half and were within just seven points (56-49) despite Orlando shooting 55 percent as compared to Atlanta's 42 percent.
The Hawks finished the night 15-39 from deep and extended their franchise record for consecutive games with at least 10 made threes to eight. However, Atlanta was outscored 28-6 in the paint in the first half and 46-26 for the game.
Without Al Horford available, Orlando used Nikola Vucevic primarily as a defender against Millsap who missed all five field goal attempts he took in the first half and finished 4-14. He did finish with 17 points largely because of an 8-10 night at the free throw line but Vucevic's length made things tough particularly on the interior. On the other end Vucevic was a monster recording a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic.
Jeff Teague turned in another nice performance with 22 points and eight assists on 9-17 shooting. Teague has scored at least 20 points in his last four games and is averaging over nine assists per game during that span. He went 2-4 from three-point range against the Magic which makes him 6-9 in his last two games. That is a welcomed sign given his struggles from deep to start the season.
With Horford down Lou Williams is going to be called on more to provide offense. Williams finished with 18 points but was just 6-16 from the field. Williams hit 4-7 attempts in the first half but was just 2-9 in the second.
The Hawks did their best to limit Arron Afflalo's opportunities in the game by sending double team's his way at every opportunity. Afflalo still turned in a very efficient performance finishing with 21 points and seven assists on 7-10 shooting.
Vucevic and Glen Davis helped set the tone early for Orlando by establishing themselves in the paint and the Hawks seemed powerless to stop it without Horford. That is an area that will have to be addressed going forward in some manner.
- Kyle Korver extended his consecutive games streak with a made three to 100 with a second quarter three. He finished with eight points but was limited to just five field goal attempts. It was the second straight game that teams have used a focused defensive effort to limit Korver's touches. That is something to keep an eye on going forward as the Hawks continue to play without Al Horford.
- Dennis Schröder played his first significant minutes in a while and finished with six points, two rebounds and one assist with zero turnovers. Schröder's three-point play in the fourth tied the game and he later split a pair of free throws that gave the Hawks their first lead since opening moments of the game.
- Shelvin Mack went 5-11 and 4-7 from deep to finish with 14 points and four rebounds.
- Speaking of Schröder and Mack, Coach Bud went with a three point guard look for a stretch in the first half with Teague, Mack and Schröder all in the lineup.
- Mike Scott couldn't duplicate his heroics from Saturday but again played meaningful fourth quarter minutes in the fourth. He finished with five points and four rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action.
- The Hawks came into the game leading the league in assists but finished with just 20 on Sunday which was nearly five below their average. Orlando came in averaging just over 20 but racked up 30 in the win.
- The recently recalled Jared Cunningham and Cartier Martin were both in uniform but received DNP-CD's. Martin told Andre Aldridge during the pre game that he was healthy and looking for an opportunity to get back on the court.