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Shaky offense sinks Hawks in 101-91 loss to Magic

Not the most entertaining game in NBA history.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks were right back to work on Sunday night after taking a close loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday afternoon. The Hawks traveled to Orlando to face off with the Magic, who are desperately holding onto hope for a playoff berth. After 48 minutes of action, the Hawks were competitive but, in the end, Atlanta fell short of the (mild) upset by a final score of 101-91.

Action began with Dewayne Dedmon winning the opening tip as things quickly got going on the offensive end for the Magic.

Orlando was able to break through first off of a Nikola Vucevic jump shot off of a nice pass by frontcourt mate Aaron Gordon. The Hawks were able to counter with their own big-to-big passing as John Collins set up Dedmon for a jam in traffic after securing a tough rebound over Vucevic.

Trae Young and Dedmon then missed consecutive three pointers, but Collins was active again on the glass and was able to get the ball to Dedmon who set Young up at the basket for an easy two.

Then, at the 9:31 mark of the first quarter, Orlando’s lone All-Star player in 2019 went to work. Vucevic began his personal 11-0 run with three straight driving layups off of D.J. Augustin passes, as Dedmon attempted to give help to Young who was struggling to keep Augustin in front of him. On the final layup of Vucevic’s run, Dedmon added insult to injury by fouling the big man.

As the first quarter began to wind down, “Vuc” was showing no signs of doing the same and, at one point, he had scored 17 of the Magic’s 19 first quarter points. Atlanta wasn’t going anywhere, though, as they were able to stumble their way through to keep things close. Vince Carter entered the game late and was able to hit a neat little step back jumper to help stop the bleeding momentarily.

DeAndre’ Bembry also was able to make an impact with his minutes in the latter half of the quarter playing solid defense on the always dangerous Terrance Ross. Bembry also got involved offensively making a lay-up in the final minute to get the Hawks within a point.

The aforementioned Ross was quick to respond, though, and he stretched the Magic lead to three with a jumper right at the end of the quarter to put Orlando up 28-25 after one.

To begin the second quarter, both teams scuffled offensively. Aaron Gordon was able to hit a three pointer to extend the Orlando lead, but those were the only points for either team until the 9:49 mark when Gordon scored again on a lay-in.

Atlanta finally got on the board with just under nine minutes remaining in the half, as Taurean Prince was able to hit a very tough fade-away jumper. Things picked up slightly for the Hawks after that, with Kevin Huerter, Prince and Alex Len able to hit three pointers over the next two minutes to help narrow the Magic lead to just one point.

Orlando then went on an 11-4 extended run to get the lead back up to eight before the final two minutes of the half. The Magic got some fantastic minutes out of Augustin in the half, as he was able to get in the lane and break down the Atlanta defense, along with hitting two three pointers in the second quarter alone.

The Hawks did not necessarily play well in the first half with multiple guys in foul trouble, along with points being hard to come by, but found themselves down just 54-46 at the half. No Hawks were in double digits at the break.

Atlanta must have gotten a rousing message at halftime regarding the defensive end because they came out into the third quarter playing impressively on that end of the floor. The Hawks were able to muck things up enough so that even the Magic, who play at a gruelingly slow pace, were getting late into the clock before getting shots up.

On the offensive end, Prince and Collins opened things up with consecutive lay-ins. Then, Young was able to get his night going as he made his way into the lane for a tough layup followed up by a wide open jump shot near the free throw line. Young looked to have taken something Augustin said personally as they went back and forth jawing after Trae began to score at will.

Orlando was never able to get any actual flow going as a majority of their points were furnished via the free throw line in the third. Atlanta took advantage as much as they could and outscored the Magic 22-19 in the quarter, but still found themselves down by five going into the final frame.

The fourth quarter was an offensive labor in the early going, just as it had been the entire game. Both teams combined to score just 13 points in the first five minutes, and Orlando maintained a stagnant, ten-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining.

From there, the action dragged even slower. Orlando turned to Vucevic again and got a quick four points around the five minute mark, but the Hawks struck back with a big three point connection from Dedmon.

Then, with under four minutes to go, Gordon banged home a three-pointer to take the Magic lead back to ten, but Dedmon was having none of it, and the veteran hit another three to keep the game in single digits.

After a timeout, Young was able to guide Collins to the rim for an alley-oop layup to cut the lead down to five, but, later, the second-year big man fouled out around the two minute mark. Things were looking even better for Atlanta after Dedmon was able to slap away a steal, but Prince fumbled away the ball and Augustin was able to pick it up and run it in for a dagger floater that took the lead back to seven.

After a missed Carter three pointer, Orlando iced it with an Evan Fournier drive to the rim resulting in a nine point lead with just over a minute remaining. Atlanta attempted to score quickly as Kent Bazemore drove to the rim for a lay-in with 65 seconds remaining, but Fournier virtually ended things with a wing three pointer.

Young led the Hawks with 20 points and five assists, and Dedmon chipped in 10 more points and 15 rebounds. It wasn’t enough to beat the Magic on Sunday, however, with Vucevic leading the home team with 27 points and grabbed 21 rebounds.

Atlanta will be back in action on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets back at home in State Farm Arena.