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Hawks hold serve in 112-96 win over Orlando

Orlando Magic v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks face a grueling schedule in the next two weeks, beginning with a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday. While Wednesday’s tilt against New York looms as a battle between playoff contenders, the Hawks faced a “taking care of business” situation on Tuesday against the struggling Orlando Magic. Atlanta didn’t dominate from wire to wire but, in the same breath, the Hawks weren’t seriously threatened on their way to a 112-96 victory to improve to 32-26 on the season.

Atlanta actually scuffled in the opening minutes, missing three of their first four shots and committing three early turnovers. That allowed the Magic to take a 9-2 lead but, in short, that was the end of the positivity for Orlando.

Trae Young connected on a three-pointer to help the offense pick up the pace.

From there, Kevin Huerter found his footing, scoring 10 points in the first 10 minutes and giving the Hawks a 24-23 lead with a three-point connection.

The Hawks didn’t play particularly well, at least by their recent standards, in the first quarter, but they scratched out a 27-24 advantage. That paved the way for Lou Williams to take the reins early in the second quarter, scoring the five points points of the period and racking up 15 (!) points in his first eight minutes of court time.

Williams was a big part of Atlanta’s 9-0 run to take a 46-35 lead, and the Hawks didn’t stop there. Overall, the home team zoomed to a 21-4 push, taking a 58-39 lead and essentially taking full control of the proceedings.

Atlanta led by 17 points at the halftime break after scoring 38 points in the second quarter alone. The Hawks produced at a high level offensively, with four players (Young, Williams, Huerter and Clint Capela) scoring at least 13 points each.

Perhaps more impressively, Atlanta didn’t allow Orlando to grab a single offensive rebound in the first 24 minutes. That effort was led by Capela, who produced his eighth double-double in the first half this season with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Hawks failed to sustain their second quarter effort in the third quarter, giving back some of their gains. Atlanta didn’t score for the first 4:19 of the second half, missing their first seven shots, and the Magic clawed back within six in the latter stages of the third period. The Hawks did manage to keep an eight-point lead, though, even as Atlanta shot just 7-of-26 from the floor in the third quarter.

Atlanta did restore order in the closing period, beginning with Williams getting it going again.

The Hawks compiled a 10-1 run, taking a 98-79 lead and pretty much putting the game away for good.

Part of the late surge was a stellar effort from John Collins, who scored nine points and five rebounds in about six minutes. He put pressure on the rim with energy and his trademark motor, and Collins also threw down three big dunks in the fourth quarter.

It was smooth sailing down the stretch, with the Hawks able to insert their reserves in the final seconds on the way to a 16-point win.

Six players scored in double figures for Atlanta, led by 25 points and seven assists for Young. Capela produced yet another double-double with 14 points and 19 rebounds, with Williams adding 22 points off the bench.

The Hawks will now face a quick turnaround with a road tilt against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Stay tuned.