The Atlanta Hawks entered Friday night with a feel of normality in comparison to Wednesday's "on again, off again" set-up at Philips Arena. Still, the team needed all 48 minutes to dispatch of the Orlando Magic, but they managed to sneak away with a 95-88 victory.
The opening minutes were basically a flawless display of basketball by the home team. Orlando's Victor Oladipo opened the scoring with a three-pointer, but from that point forward, it was all Hawks for a handful of moments.
Atlanta flew to a 19-0 (!) run that included a myriad of splendid offense. DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap connected on consecutive threes, forcing a timeout by the Raptors, and Millsap came out flying following that break with eight consecutive points, including two more threes. All in all, the Hawks started the game 8 for 8 from the field and 5 for 5 from deep, and things were going well.
Then, things weren't... going so well.
From that point, the offense basically fell apart. Atlanta finished the half (over more than 16 minutes) by making just 8 of their next 32 shots (25%), and in the process, the Magic climbed back into the game. The biggest blow from Orlando came in the form of a 18-4 run to finish the half, and the visitors managed to (somehow) take a 3-point lead into the break.
In totality, the second quarter was one of the worst of the season for the Hawks. Atlanta committed 14 turnovers in the half, but a staggering 11 of them took place in the second, and it was a wonder that the deficit was not larger, thanks in large part to ineffectiveness from the Magic. Fortunately, the second half was a bit more conducive to success.
DeMarre Carroll, who went down with an arm injury in the first half that sent him to the locker room, connected on a three to open things and that proved to be a positive omen. Atlanta shot an excellent 70% (14 for 20) from the field in the third quarter on the way to 34 points, and that was enough to build a 9-point lead for the good guys that never evaporated.
The first four minutes set the game of basketball back a few decades, as the two teams combined for just two points, but Orlando (fortunately) could not complete a full-on assault on the lead. The visiting Magic did battle throughout the fourth quarter, most notably by cutting the lead to just three points with approximately two minutes remaining on the strength of a Tobias Harris three.
After the two teams traded possessions with two points each, Paul Millsap was called for a charge, giving Orlando the opportunity to potentially tie the game on the other end with 75 seconds remaining. However, Vucevic came up empty in the lane, and on the other end, Jeff Teague finished a floater that virtually sealed the game with 44.4 seconds on the clock. Al Horford would send the crowd home happy with a dunk on the ensuing possession, and the Hawks secured a 95-88 victory.
It was certainly a less than flawless performance for the Atlanta Hawks on this night, but winning ugly is still winning in the NBA. Paul Millsap (20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), Al Horford (17 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists) and Jeff Teague (17 points, 7 assists) carried the day offensively, but timely stops and stretches of brilliance combined to secure another positive entry in the win column.