Tired Hawks Fall To Magic 109-102

Sunday, December 29, 2013
By Robby Kalland

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The Magic (10-20) followed 21 points and seven assists from Aaron Afflalo to beat the Hawks (17-14) 109-102 in Orlando. The Hawks, coming off a back-to-back and three overtime games in a row, looked a bit sluggish on the offensive end and were dominated by the Magic in the paint. The Magic outscored the Hawks 46-22 in the paint and had a 22-13 advantage in fast-break points.

Hawks vs. Magic
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Highlights

The Hawks stayed in the game with their three-point shooting, going 15-of-39 (38.5%) from the three-point line, their eighth consecutive game with 10+ made three-pointers, a franchise record. The Hawks took a 3-0 lead off a Jeff Teague three early, but the Magic controlled the rest of the first quarter to take a 26-20 lead into the second quarter. Orlando’s lead ballooned to as many as 12 in the third quarter, but the Hawks stayed resilient and closed the third quarter with a Shelvin Mack three to cut the Magic lead down to three heading into the fourth.

Atlanta started the fourth quarter well, and were able to regain the lead at 80-77, but the Magic and the Hawks’ collective fatigue proved to be too much to overcome. Afflalo was a focal point for the Hawks’ defense all night as they limited him to just 10 field goal attempts, but he made seven of those and did well to facilitate when the Hawks doubled him.

Nikola Vucevic had a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds along with three steals, as he took advantage of the Hawks’ thin frontcourt. Glen Davis had 16 points and five rebounds, and Tobias Harris had a big night with 17 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. The Hawks clearly missed Al Horford‘s presence inside and DeMarre Carroll on the wing, but, as a whole, the defense, at least in the half-court, was solid.

The problems really stemmed from the offensive end, where the Hawks shot just 44.4% from the field and took 66.7% of their shot attempts outside of the paint, and had only 19 shot attempts inside the restricted area. Settling for jump shots, which appeared to be partially an effect of fatigue, allowed the Magic to jump-start their fast-break off of missed shots as well as Atlanta’s 14 turnovers. The Hawks’ ball movement was sporadic and they finished with 20 assists on their 36 made baskets, but the offense seemed to be a step slow for much of the night.

Teague led the Hawks with 22 points, eight assists, and two steals on 9-of-17 shooting. Teague was also 2-of-4 from three-point range as he seems to be finding his shooting stroke after a rough start to the season.

Lou Williams got the start for the Hawks in Carroll’s absence, and had 18 points, three rebounds, and three assists on 6-of-16 shooting. Williams attempted 11 of the Hawks’ 39 three-point attempts, making four. Paul Millsap, coming off of a 33 point/13 rebound performance, looked fatigued and finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, but was just 4-of-14 from the field. Millsap, like most of the team, had an up-and-down night showing flashes of brilliance intertwined with periods of sluggish, sloppy play.

Kyle Korver was defended well by Afflalo and the Magic, who chased him around screens all night, but he still got eight points on 3-of-5 shooting with  four rebounds and two assists. Korver had a pair of three-pointers to extend his three-point streak to 100 consecutive games.

Along with the Korver streak extending to 100, Dennis Schröder and Shelvin Mack’s play were bright spots on the evening. The rookie got the most minutes in meaningful spots that he’s had since the first two weeks of the season, and he played well. Schröder finished with six points, two rebounds, and one assist in 13 minutes of play, and hit the free throws that put the Hawks up 80-77 in the second half. Mack led the team with a +9 rating and had 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals off the bench as he continues to impress with his contributions.

Alas, the story for the Hawks in the game was inconsistency. They would have good stretches on both ends for brief periods, but were never able to sustain those stretches for long enough to get a win. Fatigue played a role, but the Magic deserve credit for attacking the Hawks interior defense and packing the paint to force the tired Hawks to settle for jumpers. The Hawks will have a much needed day off before they face the Celtics on Tuesday in Boston.

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

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