Magic Musings: Orlando holds its own in loss to East-leading Hawks
After looking as if they might be run out of Philips Arena in the opening minutes Friday night, the Orlando Magic bounced back to give the Atlanta Hawks all they could handle.
But the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference showed their toughness down the stretch in pulling out a 95-88 victory.
Despite getting 21 points and 15 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic, the Magic lost on the road for the seventh straight time. His jumper from the top of the key with 1:30 remaining made it an 89-86 game, although he missed a shot in the lane that would have brought the Magic within a point of the lead.
The Magic fell behind 19-3 as the Hawks hit their first eight shots, including five 3-pointers. But the defensive intensity that was there under coach James Borrego for the previous seven games finally resurfaced, and the Magic forced the Hawks into 14 turnovers by halftime as they rallied to take a 45-42 lead.
Paul Millsap had 14 of his team-high 20 points in the first quarter for the Hawks, who improved to 46-12 overall and 27-4 at home. The Magic, whose last win away from home came Jan. 12 at Chicago, never led after a 3 by Channing Frye put them up 56-54 in the third quarter.
Both Evan Fournier (sore right hip) and rookie Aaron Gordon (sprained right ankle) were inactive for the Magic. Fournier had missed only three of their previous 59 games. Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn — all of whom were not used Wednesday night in an overtime loss to the Miami Heat — got in the game by the beginning of the second quarter.
THE TURNING POINT
The Magic were outscored 10-2 over the final 2:19 of the third quarter and managed only two points during the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Jeff Teague, one of four Hawks who were in the All-Star Game two weeks ago, scored all 17 of his points in the second half. He made four free throws and a floater in the lane in the final 2:21.
STAT OF THE GAME
The 34-point third quarter by the Hawks was the highest-scoring period by any Magic opponent since Borrego replaced Jacque Vaughn.
Sunday night vs. Charlotte, 6 p.m.