With Al Horford out for the second straight game due to a stomach illness, John Jenkins out with a concussion, DeShawn out on the back-to-back, and the news of Zaza Pachulia's season-ending surgery; the Hawks were able to beat the lowly Orlando Magic without much trouble. Ivan Johnson came off the bench to lead the Hawks with 21 points (matching his career high), 10 rebounds, and three steals in 34 minutes. Johnson provided the Hawks with a needed energy boost, and attacked the rim for numerous dunks and got himself to the free throw line going 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.
Ivan also held a great post-game interview. Here it is in all of it's glory (Big thanks to @JameelahJNBA for letting me use her video).
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On how fun the game was for him:
"It was real fun. I got a lot of work in. Conditioning."
On stepping up with Al out:
"There's sometimes you gotta step up. Got the Big Gator down, gotta step up."
On getting early dunks:
"It gets me going real good. Stretch my legs out. I'm gettin' kinda old."
On his free throw shooting:
"I try. I do what I can. You know, I've been workin on it. Stayin in the gym, like, 12 o'clock at night, nah I'm just playin. Yeah, I been workin on it though."
Josh Smith also scored 21 points along with nine boards, three blocks, and two steals. Smoove shot 50% from the field and 7-for-9 from the free throw line and played under control for most of the night (he still had some classic Josh long-jumpers). Devin Harris had a big fourth quarter scoring 13 of his 17 total points in the final period, including a stretch where he had eight straight for the Hawks to help push their lead to double digits.
The Hawks came out flat in the first quarter, falling behind by as many as eight, but once Ivan Johnson came in and found his flow, the Hawks were able to take a 45-44 lead into the half. The third quarter was ugly, but the Hawks started to pull away towards the end of the third before rolling through the fourth quarter on their way to the 97-88 win. Despite the game being within single-digits most of the night, the Hawks appeared to be in control for the entire second half and the Magic didn't threaten the lead much due to some horrific shooting from the field. Orlando shot 39.1% from the floor, 4-of-13 (30.8%) from three, and a Hawks-like 16-of-27 from the free throw line (59.3%).
Larry Drew was not particularly pleased after the game, especially with the energy from his starters, but he heaped praise on Ivan Johnson and Shelvin Mack for their efforts in the win. Drew pointed out that with eight games left in the season, the Hawks needed to find a way to bring sustained energy from start to finish as they move towards the playoffs.
Atlanta's homestand continues with Cleveland on Monday and then the Knicks come to town Wednesday for a big match-up between playoff teams.