The Atlanta Hawks hosted the Orlando Magic on Sunday night at State Farm Arena in a Southeast Division battle between two teams slightly overplaying expectations this season. Orlando is right in the middle of a playoff race and are vying for one of the last two spots, along with Charlotte, Miami, Detroit, and Washington, while the Hawks have firmly played their way out of the league’s basement and are closer to catching Memphis (who have the sixth-worst record in the league) than they are to falling back into the bottom four.
For the visitors, Aaron Gordon was questionable to play with a back injury, but ended up starting the game and playing a relatively normal allotment of minutes, considering the game was a complete blowout. The Hawks’ John Collins was originally listed as probable and also played in the key matchup against Gordon.
Both teams started off tonight on fire from the field as they combined to score 40 points in the first seven minutes of the quarter, but the action quickly slowed to a crawl as the backups from both teams began to struggle.
In the final three minutes of the first quarter there were only two scores total, one from DeAndre’ Bembry on a mean alley-oop and another on an Isaiah Briscoe lay-in.
When all was said and done, the Hawks and Magic hadn’t decided anything in the first quarter, as Orlando took a narrow 26-25 lead into the second period.
The Magic were quick to turn their intensity up on the offensive end and sprang to life immediately with the first six points on the second. The same could not be said for the home team, who struggled, to say the least.
It would not be exaggerating to say that the second quarter of tonight’s game might be one of the worst quarters all around that the Hawks have played this season. They could muster only 23 points, while allowing 37 to the Magic and seemingly all to Wes Iwundu, who was really good for Orlando.
At halftime, the Hawks found themselves dealing with a 63-48 deficit. Atlanta was noticeably slow on the second night of a back-to-back and coach Lloyd Pierce several times was seen looking nonplussed with his team’s effort level, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
The third period began rather sluggishly again for the Hawks starters, who all looked completely drained from all the playing time they’ve endured of late. Coach Pierce turned to his reserves looking for any energy he could get. Alex Len had a nice stretch midway through the third taking his opponent off the dribble for a jam and then stretching his game out to the three-point line.
Orlando continued the beat down on Atlanta as the Magic just looked fresher overall. Justin Anderson did get some playing time late in the third for the first time in quite a while, which was probably the highlight of the quarter as Orlando expanded their lead to 24 going into the final frame. It says everything you need to know about this game that Anderson’s playing time was a highlight for those who have been clamoring for him to get into the team’s rotation.
The Hawks re-inserted Collins, Young and Huerter for one last run to begin the fourth quarter and Atlanta played well in a short burst, but it was easy to tell that the legs just weren’t there. For the Hawks to lose their legs was particularly poor, due to the fact that they’re such a young team and Orlando was coming off a back-to-back as well after playing in Milwaukee last night. Atlanta should have had the conditioning advantage, but no such advantage materialized for them.
Atlanta was able to keep in respectable but in the end it was Orlando taking home the W keeping the Hawks winless on this home stand.
Trae Young finished with 13 points and seven assists. Kevin Huerter had a pretty good night with 15 points of his own and John Collins poured in 15 more.
D.J. Augustin had a night for the Magic with 14 points and 10 assists. Terrence Ross added 18 off the bench and All-Star Nikola Vucevic went for 19 and 12 boards.
No Hawk had more than six rebounds and overall Atlanta was out-rebounded 49-33 as they just never quite got the offense rolling, though they did shoot quite well from beyond the three-point line.
Atlanta will be back in action on Tuesday night against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers after a much needed day of rest on Monday. Stay tuned.