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Hawks struggle defensively in 135-126 loss to Magic

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Atlanta Hawks v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks visited the Orlando Magic on Monday night to do battle before the impending All-Star break.

The Hawks were coming off of a double-overtime win against the New York Knicks on Sunday evening where Trae Young poured in 48 points and John Collins had a big night on the boards with 16 rebounds.

The Magic entered the night as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, but had lost four of their last five games.

The action to start the game was steady for both squads with the game tied at 8 after the first four and a half minutes. The Magic then went on a quick 8-1 run to jump out to a 16-9 lead.

Atlanta would finish strong, though, as the second unit really locked down defensively and went on a 12-2 run to finish the first. As a result, the Hawks were able to carry a 28-22 lead into the second period.

The Hawks defense fell off slightly during a more fast-paced second period, but Jeff Teague played well during the bridge from one Young stint to the next and kept Atlanta in lockstep with the Magic.

After Trae re-entered the game about midway through the second quarter, the Hawks went on a quick 6-0 run to regain their lead momentarily. A strong stretch by De’Andre Hunter towards the end of the period continued Atlanta’s positive play as they worked their lead to seven points.

The Magic got a Vucevic dunk to end the half, but the Hawks still took a 61-56 lead into the break after a slow start.

The scoring intensified even more in the third period for both teams. The Magic went on a run first to re-take the lead. Orlando went on a 10-0 run right around the middle of the third to stretch that lead to as many as seven points.

Atlanta finally was able to put the tourniquet on thanks to some inspired play by Cam Reddish, who was playing tonight in his first game back from injury. Reddish had 10 points by himself during a five minute span to turn the tide. Reddish’s final three points of the quarter gave the Hawks their lead back.

Teague continued his solid play by collecting his 10th assist of the night late in the third and that helped to get the Hawks into the fourth quarter with a three point lead intact at 96-93.

Much like the other three quarters, Orlando began the fourth period on a quick 11-0 run to regain the lead.

Dewayne Dedmon (who was great once again this evening) was able to stop the bleeding with a three point play to put the Hawks down just two points. Then, after an Orlando score Young was able to knock down a three to cut the deficit to just one at 108-107.

From there, the teams decided to have a three point shooting contest as they exchanged three straight makes from beyond the arc.

Then, the Hawks cooled down and the Magic did not. Orlando hit three shots from deep in a hurry and had the Hawks down 10 points before they even knew what hit them.

Down 127-117 with just over three minutes to go, Atlanta attempted to mount a comeback. The were able to narrow the lead to 129-122 with just over a minute remaining, but the Magic were able to get over 130 and that essentially ended the game.

The Hawks did not play too bad in Orlando considering most of their starters had to play 45+ minutes last night in double overtime. However, Atlanta’s defense just completely dissipated after halftime, as the Magic scored 79 points in the third and fourth quarters.

Trae Young led the Hawks with 29 points and nine assists. John Collins added 22 more and grabbed eight rebounds. Dewayne Dedmon was also very good with 14 points and nine rebounds to go with 2 blocks and a team-high +22.

The Magic had four 20 point scorers on the night as Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Terrance Ross and Evan Fournier combined to score 93 of Orlando’s 135 points.

Atlanta will be back in action on Wednesday night for one last game before the break in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers.

Stay tuned.