The Atlanta Hawks were supposed to beat the Orlando Magic on Saturday evening and, after 24 minutes of clock time, that result wasn’t in a tremendous amount of doubt. From there, it was pure gravy, as the Hawks finished off a 113-86 victory.
With the threat of a hangover lingering after Thursday evening’s comeback win, the Hawks eliminated any notion with a strong start. Tim Hardaway Jr. followed up his flourish on Thursday with seven points in the early going and Atlanta claimed an early 13-4 advantage.
From there, the Hawks kept the pedal to the floor, racking up a 29-16 lead in only eight minutes. At that point, Atlanta was 13 of 16 from the floor with 11 assists and that was good enough to buoy an offensive rating north of 130 for the first quarter.
The Hawks picked up from there, scoring six straight points to open up a 43-29 lead midway through the second quarter. While Orlando unquestionably put up more resistance in the opening moments of that period, the home responded in kind, using a 9-0 run to close the half on a high note with a dominant 65-39 lead.
In the first 24 minutes, four members of the Hawks scored in double figures, led by 13 points and nine assists from Dennis Schröder. The team shot a blistering 66 percent from the floor and, when combined with very solid defense, it was an extremely strong showing.
The Magic did flash a bit of comeback potential at the beginning of the third quarter, spurting to a 9-2 run that slashed the margin to 19. On cue, the Hawks returned the favor to the tune of a 9-2 spurt of their own to restore order and that was the final time in the period that the advantage would be fewer than 20 points.
With the Hawks leading 91-65 at the end of the third quarter, the game appeared to be all but sealed and it turned out to be. Atlanta’s fourth-quarter performance will not be displayed for years to come among the pantheon of great closing periods, but it was enough to avoid any real threat from Orlando. In the end, it was a 27-point victory and an exercise in taking care of business at home.
There was no singularly dominant individual performance in this particular game, but a few Hawks stood out for excellent play. Dennis Schröder produced a 17-point, 10-assist double-double in 26 minutes of court time, while Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with 21 points each. In support, both Malcolm Delaney (12 points, 5 of 8 shooting) and Dwight Howard (11 points, 13 rebounds) put together strong efforts and it was a tremendous performance in the aggregate.
After a break to watch the Falcons on Super Bowl Sunday, the Hawks will return to action on Monday evening. The team waiting for them will be one of the West’s best in the Utah Jazz and Philips Arena will play host to a top-flight match-up. Stay tuned.