Draft lottery position all that’s left for Hawks, Magic
ATLANTA — The teams with the worst records in the Eastern Conference meet Sunday in a game that could have a long-term impact on both franchises.
Orlando (22-53) visits Atlanta (21-55) for the final time this season at Philips Arena, with the loser improving its odds for a higher first-round draft pick. Both teams trail Phoenix, which has the worst record in the NBA.
Atlanta, beset by injuries all season, will play the rest of the way without point guard Dennis Schroder, who has been dealing with a left ankle sprain for several weeks. Team officials announced Saturday that Schroder will be shut down for the remainder of the season.
The fifth-year player from Germany leads Atlanta in scoring (19.4 points) and assists (6.2). The premature end to his season guarantees Schroder will become the fourth player in franchise history to average at least 19 points and six assists, joining Lenny Wilkens, Pete Maravich and Joe Johnson.
The Hawks will get forward DeAndre Bembry, out since the All-Star Game with an abdominal injury, back for the game. Atlanta is still without starting guard Kent Bazemore and backups Malcolm Delaney and Jaylen Morris.
Guard Isaiah Taylor left the game with a left ankle sprain Friday and the Hawks responded by signing Jeremy Evans to a 10-day contract. Evans was with the Hawks in training camp but hasn’t been in the NBA since 2015-16 with the Dallas Mavericks.
The Hawks have lost five straight and 11 of their last 12. Atlanta dropped a 101-91 decision to Philadelphia on Friday. Damion Lee scored a career-high 20 points in the loss.
“The guys kept working,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday. “I’m glad they kept competing at the end. It was an unusual lineup and we tried some different things. We’ll get better between now and Sunday.”
Orlando has lost two in a row and dropped 10 of its last 12. The Magic lost 90-82 to the Chicago Bulls on Friday, with Aaron Gordon scoring 18 for Orlando.
A bright spot was the play of rookie first-round draft pick Jonathan Isaac, who came back from missing three games with a strained left foot to lead a strong defensive effort.
“I’m once again getting more and more acclimated to that spot and playing next to (Gordon),” Isaac said. “I think that’s going to be something special for years to come. As I progress and he progresses, I think it will be amazing.”
The Magic have had their problems with injuries, too. They are without Evan Fournier, Jonathon Simmons, Terrence Ross and Wes Iwundu.
Orlando has won two of the previous three games against Atlanta. The Magic won both contests on their home court, with Atlanta taking the lone game at Philips Arena.
The Hawks have won the last two meetings on their home court. Atlanta leads the all-time series 57-54 and is 36-18 at home.