Hawks-Magic Preview

The Atlanta Hawks salvaged a victory in their first game without

Al Horford thanks to some timely individual performances.

Whether they can sustain success without their top scorer for an

extended period remains to be seen.

Atlanta looks for a sixth win in seven games Sunday night when

it visits the Orlando Magic.

The Hawks (17-13) were without Horford on Saturday versus

Charlotte after he suffered a torn right pectoral muscle in

Thursday’s double-overtime win at Cleveland. Horford, who leads

Atlanta with 18.6 points and dropped one-tenth behind Paul

Millsap’s team-leading rebounding average of 8.5, will likely

require surgery and could miss the rest of the season.

Atlanta was 2-6 without Horford last season but had enough for a

118-116 overtime victory over the Bobcats. Millsap and Lou Williams

each recorded season highs with 33 and 28 points, respectively,

with 10 of Williams’ points coming on free throws in the extra

period.

The Hawks trailed by 14 late in the third quarter before

rallying and Pero Antic hit a 3-pointer off one leg with 3.1

seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

“Everybody’s still a little shocked about the situation,” said

Millsap, who is averaging 26.0 points in his last three games – 8.6

better than his season average. “You could tell. Al’s a big part of

what we do, but once we shook it off, guys just got out there and

played ball.”

Still, Atlanta was noticeably weaker at the center position,

with replacement starter Elton Brand, Antic and Gustavo Ayon

combining to go 2 for 13 for six points.

“It’s going to take some time to learn to play without Al,”

coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We have to get everybody comfortable,

to keep the ball moving, to know where the spots are. I thought our

start was OK, actually.”

Even with Horford, the Hawks have generally struggled on the

second game of back-to-backs, going 2-4.

They had won 11 straight over Orlando, including this season’s

first meeting, before a 109-92 home loss on Nov. 26. The Magic shot

50.6 percent with Arron Afflalo scoring 26. Orlando hadn’t scored

more than 94 points over the previous 13 meetings, averaging just

82.3.

The Magic (9-20) played well offensively in a 109-92 home win

over Detroit on Saturday, shooting 52.9 percent after shooting 41.7

percent during a five-game home skid.

“It’s good to get a win at home for once,” said Afflalo, who had

23 points on 9-of-11 shooting. “I don’t think we’ve won here this

month … I thought we shared the ball throughout the game, made

the right play.

“When we play like that I think we’re pretty good.”

Afflalo gave the Magic a scare when he turned his ankle in the

third, though he eventually returned to finish out the quarter

before sitting out the final period with the game well in hand.

He’s averaging 24.6 points on 55.7 percent shooting and has made 14

of 23 3-pointers over his last five games.