The Hawks started this game very lethargic; their shots were falling, but the defense was atrocious. The Magic scored 39 points in the first quarter in what looked to be anther blowout loss. The Hawks got some energy in the third quarter, after being down by 19 at halftime, yet they still trailed by 12 heading into the fourth quarter. The Hawks then cut the lead to 6 with a spark provided from Bogdan Bogdanovic scoring 5 quick points in his second game back from his knee fracture.
The Hawks looked to have gained momentum midway through the fourth when Orlando went on a run, growing their lead to 16 with just over 6 minutes left in the game. Then the onslaught began. The Hawks were hitting threes from everywhere. John Collins, Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Tony Snell and finally Trae Young all hit huge threes to take the lead with under a minute to play. The score was 111-110, with the Hawks on top, when Al-Farouq Aminu missed a layup that would have given the Magic the lead.
The Hawks played excellent defense in the fourth quarter, and this miss looked as if the Hawks was going to stand strong in the final twenty seconds; however, without much rebounding ability on the court, Nikola Vucevic tipped in the miss, giving the Magic the lead. The Hawks took a timeout to regroup and drew up a play for Trae Young to penetrate the lane and either finish at the rim or give it to John Collins for an easy lay in. John was not open, so Trae decided to take the shot, but he missed. Trae, however, drew a foul on this shot attempt, and he hit two huge free throws to put the Hawks up by one.
Now, the Magic had the ball with 8 seconds left, and the Hawks defense had to get one last stop. Terrence Ross drove into the lane and had a seemingly open floater attempt that clanked off the rim right towards John Collins to secure the game winning rebound. The final score was 115-112 after Collins hit two free throws after being fouled. Overall, this game showed that the Hawks have a good core of players, and they are resilient. Many other teams would have just given up when they were down by double digits in game right before the All-Star break. The Hawks were visibly tired after coming off the huge win Tuesday night against the Heat, but they mustered up enough energy to complete the comeback.
The Hawk’s performance tonight, however, was not great, except for the fourth quarter. They shot up many threes that were rushed, and the offense still lacked the flow that we saw early in the season. They were beat thoroughly on the boards for the first three quarters, giving great example as to why they need Clint Capela to stay healthy. They flipped a switch in the fourth quarter though by hitting 9-13 three-point attempts and holding the Magic to only 22 points. Nate McMillan’s presence seemed to keep the Hawks engaged, especially in the fourth quarter, which has not been the case in previous fourth quarter blunders. The Hawks team that we saw in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty because they were missing so many crucial pieces, yet they still found a way to escape with the victory.
Now, the Hawks need to rest up, get healthy, and prepare to dominate the second half of the season.