The Atlanta Hawks wanted to make sure Monday night’s rematch with the Orlando Magic did not come down to the final seconds as Sunday’s game did. That game turned out badly for the Hawks.
Atlanta blew a 20-point lead on Monday, but it was the Hawks who had the final chance to win. Paul Millsap’s potential game-winner swished through a split second after the final buzzer. The Magic took advantage and posted a 117-110 victory in overtime at Phillips Arena.
The Hawks had to still be stinging from Nicola Vucevic’s 15-foot jumper as time expired that gave the Magic a 96-94 victory on Sunday in Orlando. They came out of the locker room on Monday highly motivated.
After the first nine minutes of the game, the two teams had combined to score 36 points. Unfortunately for the Magic, 28 of those points belonged to the Hawks.
Over the next seven minutes, Orlando went on a 28-7 run of their own to get within 35-28 at the 7:50 mark of the second quarter. Atlanta closed the half with strong play and took a 54-41 lead into the locker room.
The teams traded punches in the third quarter with Atlanta holding an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Despite the fact both teams were playing the second of back-to-back games, Orlando looked like the fresher of the two early in the fourth quarter.
They cut the Atlanta lead to six points midway through the period. When Mario Hezonja drilled a three-pointer with 3:30 left, Orlando had their first lead of the game. With 14.8 seconds remaining, Hezonja gave the Magic their second lead, 101-100, on another three-pointer from the top of the key.
The Magic scored the first six points of overtime, and then made seven of eight free throws down the stretch. A huge three-pointer from Evan Fournier to pushed the lead back to five points with 31 seconds remaining. Atlanta would not score again.
Vucevic killed the Hawks again. He posted 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lead the Magic. Elfrid Payton added 20 as Orlando had six players score in double figures.
Magic Coach Scott Skiles was pleased with the Magic’s resilience.
“We had a poor start, but we hung in there,” said Skiles. “We came out in the third quarter the same way, not playing as well as we’d like, but you’ve gotta give the guys a lot of credit, and they hung in there.”
Former Florida Gator Al Horford paced the Hawks with 27 points and All-Star Paul Millsap added 22. Point guard Jeff Teague chipped in 21.
The victory was Orlando’s second in a row and marks their first two-game winning streak since wins over New Orleans and Brooklyn on December 28 and December 30. They split the season series with Atlanta, 2-2.
Their third straight win will be difficult to achieve as the San Antonio Spurs visit Amway Arena on Wednesday in the last game before the All-Star break.