Hawks hope to keep trending up vs. Magic
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks have had a split personality this season, going from terrific during a 9-2 start that featured a six-game winning streak to horrific during a 1-10 swoon that included seven losses in a row.
Now are the Hawks ready to return to their good selves?
It is a very small sample size, but Atlanta is showing positive signs in winning its past two games and will try to build momentum when it hosts the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.
If the Hawks (12-12) do end up having the season they hoped, coming back from a 20-point halftime deficit to win at Milwaukee on Friday may be looked on as the turning point.
Atlanta had shown little resiliency during its slump, losing back-to-back games by 36 and 44 points. That wasn't the case against the Bucks, though.
"The message was, don't lose by 20," forward Paul Millsap said after the win in Milwaukee. "Don't do it again. It was just about having some pride, going out there and trying to get it done."
Millsap, who missed three games during the losing streak with a bad hip, had 23 points and 14 rebounds during the comeback victory, and point guard Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points.
The Hawks have had three days off since the victory and they need to pick right back up from where they left off in Milwaukee.
"We have to take care of business Tuesday," Millsap said. "Get another win and keep building off the last game we've had. Hopefully, we'll continue to get better like we did (Friday)."
"We have to have the right mindset from the jump ball on Tuesday," coach Mike Budenholzer said.
The Magic (10-15) lost 17 of their past 22 games against the Hawks and come to Atlanta on a three-game losing streak.
Orlando was stingy defensively early this season. That hasn't been the case lately.
"It's just frustrating," Magic coach Frank Vogel said after Saturday's 121-113 home loss to Denver. "When you're trying to build something, it takes daily work, daily habits. We certainly have slipped on the defensive end."
Power forward Nikola Vucevic took a hard fall during the loss at Charlotte on Friday and sat out the Nuggets game because of a lower back contusion. He is questionable against the Hawks, as is center Bismack Biyombo with a sore left shoulder.
The Magic salvaged a split of the four-game season series against the Hawks a year ago, winning the final two games. Vucevic was a big part of that, scoring 22 and 28 points.
Hawks guard Kent Bazemore missed the last three games because of a sore knee, with Tim Hardaway Jr. taking his place in the starting lineup.
Atlanta's other recent lineup change is defensive-minded Thabo Sefolosha starting a small forward and Kyle Korver coming in to add offense when needed.
"I think Kyle can be really effective off the bench," Budenholzer said when making the move four games ago. "I think it will be beneficial for both of them and us."