The Atlanta Hawks have suffered from a lack of consistency in recent weeks, but on Monday night, that bug did not plague Mike Budenholzer and his team. The Hawks led from wire-to-wire in a comfortable 98-81 victory, and it came at the expense of a division rival in the Orlando Magic.
From the opening whistle, the Hawks were in control and that began with a 7-0 spurt on the scoreboard. Atlanta raced built a larger lead with another 7-0 mini-run shortly thereafter, and despite five early turnovers, the home team managed to build a 7-point first quarter lead, led by Paul Millsap's 9 points.
The second quarter was, fortunately, more of the same. Orlando struggled mightily on the offensive end, shooting just 34% in the half, and with the Hawks continuing to make shots, the advantage grew. Thanks to a late flourish, Atlanta held a 13-point point lead at the break, and balance was the name of the game, as no player on the Hawks roster cracked double-figures in scoring before halftime.
Orlando, as most teams do, mounted a run, and it happened to be at the start of the second half. The Magic began the third quarter on a 10-3 run that prompted a timeout from Mike Budenholzer at the 7:37 mark and, in general, Atlanta scuffled on both ends of the floor. Following that hiccup, though, Jeff Teague knocked down back-to-back threes as part of a run that reinstalled a big lead for the Hawks, and the home team cruised to a 13-point edge after three quarters despite playing break-even basketball in the period.
That break-even performance came to an end in a hurry in the fourth quarter, and it was on the positive side for Atlanta. The Hawks opened the closing period with a 15-4 run to break open a 24-point lead, and at that point, the game was effectively over. The trio of Shelvin Mack, Mike Muscala and Justin Holiday took the floor with more than six minutes remaining, and it was a cruise control effort on the way to the final margin of 98-81.
In a wild example of balance, the Hawks managed to secure this blowout win without a single player exceeding 15 points. Paul Millsap (13 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists) and Al Horford (15 points, 7 rebounds) put forth the best individual efforts, but it was noteworthy that Atlanta won the team rebounding battle by a 47-42 margin, and on a day when the Hawks shot 51% from the floor and 47% from three-point distance (with 31 assists), it was an uphill climb for Orlando.
The Hawks will be back in action on Wednesday evening, as the team embarks on a four-game trip through the Western Conference that begins in Portland. Stay tuned.