In a late-season matchup of the two teams sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the Hawks delivered an Easter Sunday 94-88 victory over the Magic. Aside from a second quarter barrage of Hawks’ three-pointers, both team struggled to make shots. But Tyler Dorsey lead the way with 19 points from the bench while the Hawks got double-doubles from three frontcourt players.
The win was the Hawks’ first in nearly two weeks, with the last win coming six games prior on March 20 in Utah. After his strong performance, Dorsey expressed a sense of relief in getting the victory: “It feels good. It was a tough road trip for us. Just to get one feels good. For us, it’s just getting better. Finishing out the season as strong as possible at this point.”
Hawks Coach Mike Budenholzer liked the way Dorsey played with confidence: “I think he banked in his first one, and then he thought he was hot. He was great. His confidence coming off screens, got to the basket, got a backdoor layup to finish the quarter. When he gets a little bit of confidence, he has different ways of scoring.”
Dorsey banks in his first shot of the game. Perhaps a little lucky, but the shot set the tone for Dorsey lead the team with 19 points in just 22 minutes of action.
Like many other NBA teams at this point of the season, the Hawks and Magic played short-handed on Sunday. The result was two teams playing with a handful of veterans interspersed with rookies, second year players and other players who have seen more G-League experience than NBA experience this season.
The opening quarter was anything but a shooting clinic. The Hawks and Magic combined to shoot 15-for-45 (33 percent) from the field and 4-for-17 (24 percent) from the three-point-line.
Amidst the shooting struggles, the Magic opened up a 13-7 lead getting seven early points from rookie Jonathan Isaac, the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Budenholzer inserted the rookie Dorsey into the game, whose three-pointer initiated a 7-0 run that gave the Hawks their first lead, 14-13, on a Mason Plumlee reverse layup with 4:22 remaining in the opening period.
Plumlee gets the reverse layup off the bounce pass from Prince.
After the Magic regained the lead 18-16, the Hawks closed out the quarter with a Mike Muscala three and a Dorsey two to lead 21-18 at the end of one quarter. In spite of five turnovers in the period, the Hawks offense prevailed on ball movement as the Hawks assisted on eight of their nine field goals in the period.
In the second quarter, the Hawks’ offense caught fire, scoring 35 points in the period. The Hawks made five of 11 three-point attempts and assisted on 13 of 15 field goals in the quarter. Dewayne Dedmon led the Hawk with eight points in the period. Dorsey scored seven, making all three of his field goal attempts including one from behind the arc.
After leading 25-22 just two minutes into the period, the Hawks ran off ten straight points including back-to-back threes from Dorsey and Muscala. The result was a 35-22 lead with 8:05 to play before the half.
Dorsey hits another three, this time to give the Hawks a 13-point lead in the second quarter.
The Magic were able to find some offensive rhythm of their own but were only able to trade baskets with the Hawks the rest of the period. The Hawks maintained the 13-pont lead as they went to the break leading 56-43.
In third quarter, all of offensive mojo the Hawks displayed in the second quarter was gone as Atlanta managed just 13 points on 6-for-20 shooting, including 1-for-7 from the three-point line. Veteran point guard D.J. Augustin scored eight in the period and pulled the Magic within three at 65-62 with 2:42 to go in the third period. A Plumlee dunk gave the Hawks a 69-64 lead heading to the final period.
Plumlee gets the easy dunk off the feed from Josh Magette.
Magic rookie Wesley Iwundu opened the final quarter with a three-pointer to cut he Hawks lead to 69-67, but the Hawks ran off seven straight points to lead 76-67. Another Augustin three later pulled the Magic within two at 79-77. But three consecutive scores by the Hawks, including two by Isaiah Taylor, opened the lead back up to eight points with 5:25 to play.
A score on a beautiful spin move by John Collins and five late points from Dorsey would ice the game for the Hawks as they went on to win by six, 94-88. In addition to the team high 19 points from Dorsey, Dedmon added 17 points and ten rebounds. The Magic were led by Augustin with 20 points and Isaac with 15.
Collins used a spin move and fade away jumper to give he Hawks a seven-point lead with three minutes to play.
Even amidst some high-scoring games from Taurean Prince over the past month, Budenholzer has intimated that Prince should look to create scoring opportunities for his teammates as much as he does for himself. He checked that box on Sunday leading the team with eight assists while scoring just five points on two made field goals.
By the time Prince scored his first points two minutes into the final period, he had dished out seven assists. His contributions in the first half might have been subtle but set the tone for the Hawks assisting on 21 of 24 made field goals in the half.
Multiple times throughout the game, Budenholzer deployed lineups that included three bigs on the floor together. In the first half, Dedmon, Collins, and Muscala played together at times. In the second half, it was Dedmon, Muscala, and Plumlee together with Prince playing in the back court. The result was double-doubles from Dedmon (17 points, 10 rebounds), Collins (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Muscala (13 points, 10 rebounds).
After the game, Budenholzer noted how the three-big lineup helped them on both ends of the floor, “I thought it was effective for us. Sometimes it can take teams out of their rhythm a little bit. In the NBA, you’re so used to running all of your stuff against (man-to-man), maybe once in a while you can throw a zone out there, especially with us having three bigs out there. I thought it helped us a little bit.”
DeAndre’ Bembry made his first appearance since December 22. He has been limited to just 22 games this season due to injury. On Sunday, he played 14 minutes and contributed four points, three rebounds and three assists.
The Hawks have five games remaining on the season. Their next game will be Tuesday night in Miami as they take on the Heat,