The Atlanta Hawks were unable to bounce-back from Friday’s hammering in Indiana, suffering an overtime defeat to fellow Southeast Division rival, the Orlando Magic, on Sunday night at the Kia Center, 117-110.
Trae Young led the Hawks in scoring with 31 points, Dejounte Murray adding 24 points. For the Magic, Paolo Banchero scored a game-high 35 points to go with 10 rebounds. Caleb Houstan scored a career-high 25 points.
The Hawks did not start this game well, falling behind 16-3 in the early exchanges but fought back to reduce the deficit, tie the game and even threaten to take a double-digit lead near the half with a strong end to the second quarter.
The Magic fought back in the third quarter and it was their turn to almost reestablish their double-digit lead, giving the Hawks a small hill to climb in the fourth quarter, and climb it they did. We got a close contest heading down the stretch.
A couple of the key plays from the Hawks’ side of things include this layup from Young coming out of a timeout with the Hawks trailing by seven points:
Big play from Young here at a time where, had the Hawks not scored, things could have threatened to get away down the stretch. It was also an instance of Jalen Suggs struggling to contain Young without fouling in the period. Young would miss the foul shot, which is unfortunate and one of three misses from the line last night from Young.
Towards the end of the fourth, a Houstan three gives Orlando a four point lead and prompts an Atlanta timeout. Out of said timeout, Young again gets to the rim and lifts the ball over the shot-blocking Goga Bitadze to reduce the lead to two points with under a minute to go:
The Hawks get a crucial stop on the next possession as Cole Anthony’s drive is disrupted by Clint Capela, who gets a hand in to help force a turnover and to give the Hawks the opportunity to tie or take the lead:
The Hawks elect not to go for the 2-for-1 and Young whips the ball to the weakside corner where Jalen Johnson does brilliantly to pass the ball to the cutting Saddiq Bey after drawing the rotation on his three-point threat, and Bey dunks to tie the game:
The Magic, despite having two timeouts, elect to come freely at the Hawks through Banchero, who is doubled by Johnson and Young, and Banchero finds Houstan for a three-point attempt but the shot is missed and to overtime we go:
A fortunate break for the Hawks here with Houstan having made seven threes in this game prior to this moment.
It was in overtime where things fell flat offensively for the Hawks, who would go on to score just five points in overtime to the Magic’s 12.
Their first offensive trips ends with two bites at the cherry, the first chomp coming from Murray who can’t get his close shot to fall, and the second effort from Capela is unable to be diverted home:
Conversely, the Magic were extremely effective and efficient with their second chances, scoring 25 points off their 13 offensive rebounds including this trifecta after the offensive rebound is collected by Bitadze — after some good defense from Capela on Banchero — and sent out to Banchero who buries the three:
The Hawks are unable to find a reply as Johnson’s above the break three is missed:
The Magic would then take a five point after Banchero scores on the switch to Murray, plus the opportunity for a three-point play:
I’d be a little annoyed if I was Murray as the momentum from Bey basically pushed Murray into the contact with Banchero, who fortunately for the Hawks misses the three-point opportunity.
Banchero would return to the line — splitting the pair — after a basket and then foul from Johnson before two missed Capela free throws give the ball back to the Magic. Cole Anthony misses the shot but the Magic are again on the glass through Bitadze and he finishes the second chance play:
Young would go on to hit a three to cut the lead to three, produce a block on Anthony’s shot but would immediately lose the ball and give it back to Orlando:
A tough break for the Hawks here, as would their next possession which also ended in a turnover as confusion between Capela and Murray ends with the ball going out of bounds:
A missed Banchero shot gives the Hawks a lifeline and Murray pushes in transition — now with under a minute remaining — but his shot at the rim is out of control:
Down five with 30 seconds to go the Hawks then let the shot clock get down to seven seconds before Johnson fouls Anthony, who extends the lead to seven and the game is now over.
The Hawks shot 2-of-7 in the overtime period and when you look at the shots, they weren’t too poor in quality (with the exception of Murray perhaps). That can happen in an NBA game, but what can’t happen is Orlando’s dominance in second chance scoring and it was this point that Hawks head coach Quin Snyder emphasized often postgame.
“Those are demoralizing situations, when you play good defense and don’t finish the possession” said Snyder. “We’re good free throw shooters and we missed some free throws that left some points on the board. The third quarter we had some challenges with our execution and seeing the ball go in too. I thought we bounced back in the fourth, we did.”
When asked about Paolo Banchero, Snyder finished his answer with this:
“I think the biggest thing is players are going to make shots but when they miss we’ve got to clean up the glass.”
Snyder mentioned on a few occasions that he was happy with the Hawks’ defense last night but his qualm was that the Hawks didn’t finish the defensive play and gave the Magic second chances.
“They made some shots but the boards are something we have more control over,” said Snyder. “Sometimes you play good defense and a guy will make a shot but we can’t give them multiple opportunities.”
Bitadze was the main source of the problem with his seven offensive rebounds, feeding Banchero often out of these situations. Banchero was a thorn in the Hawks’ side and his eight overtime points set him apart from the Hawks’ stars, who struggled to enforce themselves in overtime.
The other aspect of this game that Snyder believed was key were the free throws, where Atlanta shot 17-of-29 (59%) from the line. Young and Murray missed seven between them, Onyeka Okongwu’s only trip went 0-of-2 and Capela missed his only two attempts in overtime.
“I think free throw shooting, I have a lot of confidence when our guys get to the line,” said Snyder. “Clint’s shot it great this year, Trae and DJ are two of the best free throw shooters and they’re both very confident and poised in clutch situations. Sometimes you miss some, it is what it is. Nobody is nervous at the line, those guys are confident and the ball just doesn’t always go in. That’s when you point to the other end. I thought our bigs switched when we needed to, we executed in a lot of good situations to keep matchups that we wanted. But being able to close possessions is important.”
The Hawks’ three-point shooting numbers didn’t fare much better: 9-of-30 for 30% on the night, with Young shooting 2-of-9 and Johnson 0-of-4. The Hawks lost Garrison Mathews with a left ankle sprain and was limited to only a minute of action and speaking of threats from the perimeter, it was odd to see Bogdan Bogdanovic not feature in overtime until the very end since he was basically the only Hawk hitting the three consistent volume threes with 4-of-9.
As was the case again last night, the Hawks failed to make a halftime lead count and their nine point advantage was quickly lost and Snyder discussed the pressure his side come under in the third quarter to make shots.
“We need to play better,” said Snyder of improving in the second half. “I hesitate to try to get too granular in everything. We’ve started games well, we’ve had good third quarters, it’s just a question of us maintaining that consistency. Orlando came out in the beginning and made everything. They cooled down, we caught up and took the lead heading into halftime and had a same situation in the third quarter where if they’re making shots it puts even more pressure on you to have really good possessions offensively and the ones we did have, they were good, but the ball didn’t go in.”
Aside from overtime, Young and Murray had good, efficient games offensively and Bogdanovic can’t do much more than what he has been doing off the bench. Okongwu produced five blocks on the night but didn’t feature in overtime which was, similar to Bogdanovic, a bit confusing. Bey had a decent night, scoring 16 points, but across the board the Hawks just didn’t have enough to lift themselves over the Magic. They were unfortunate in another sense to be on the wrong end of a career-night from Caleb Houstan but it’s the NBA — players have career nights and you have to be ready for that.
A disappointing loss for the Hawks in this spot, it must be said. The Magic are a good team, but without Franz Wagner last night, this was more winnable than it otherwise would have been, and but their inability to keep Orlando off the offensive glass and scoring (and credit to them, they scored a lot of points from not a ton of chances as you might think for 25 second chance points) and their free throw shooting which will really disappoint the Hawks.
The Hawks now drop a game adrift of the final play-in spot, and as February looms it begs the question what is to come for the Atlanta Hawks? For now, however, the games keep coming...
The Hawks (14-20) are back in action on Wednesday night when they’ll take on the Philadelphia 76ers (23-12) at State Farm Arena.
Until next time...