After a lackluster performance on Friday, the Atlanta Hawks had the opportunity to right the ship in Orlando on Saturday evening. However, the performance required to achieve that goal never materialized against the Magic and the Hawks sputtered to a 105-86 defeat.
Just moments before tip-off, it came to light that Dennis Schröder would not start and the Hawks paid handsomely for that decision in the early going. Kent Bazemore tried his best to keep Atlanta afloat within the first few minutes, scoring the first seven points, but the Hawks found themselves in a 21-10 hole (after an 11-0 run) before Schröder hit the floor for the first time.
From there, though, things immediately changed. The Hawks reeled off a 9-1 run to avoid further disaster and, in the second period, Atlanta blitzed Orlando with eight straight points (including five from Schröder himself) to claim the lead.
The Hawks continued to build their lead to 41-32 but, not to be outdone, the Magic did respond with nine straight to knot the game. Then, Orlando closed strong to claim a 49-46 advantage but things could have been much worse for Atlanta if not for an awakening spurred by Schröder.
Unfortunately, the second half performance left quite a bit to be desired for Mike Budenholzer’s team. The Magic blew things open with a 13-5 run to open the third quarter and the home’s lead quickly grew from there. While Atlanta flirted with feistiness later in the third, the Hawks were never able to slash the advantage to a working margin.
The end result was a 19-point defeat and, combined with an 18-point home loss on Friday, Atlanta’s performance after the All-Star break has been hapless. As a team, the Hawks defended somewhat adequately for most of the night in Orlando, with the glaring exception of the third quarter. The other end, however, was utterly brutal, as the Hawks shot 39 percent from the floor and scored at a clip of only 88.4 points per 100 to seal the defeat.
After a travel day on Sunday, the Hawks will return to action on Monday evening but the competition takes a significant jump. The Boston Celtics await and, if Atlanta doesn’t ratchet up its level of play, the results could be ugly. Stay tuned.