The Atlanta Hawks brushed aside the Orlando Magic, 113-86, on Saturday evening at Philips Arena in a wire-to-wire victory. The Magic were led by Aaron Gordon’s 16 points while both Jeff Green and Elfrid Payton added 12 points. For the Hawks, five players scored in double digits, Paul Millsap leading the way with 21 points in three quarters.
Dennis Schröder registered a double-double, 17 points and 10 assists, one of which was an absolute beauty.
— NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2017
Hawks’ heavy lifting in first half leads them to victory
How long have folks wanted to see the Hawks actually start a game with energy? Well, fans got their wish last night, the Hawks flew out the traps, making 13 of their first 15 shots. The Hawks quickly ran out to a 13-4 lead forcing Magic coach Frank Vogel into a timeout, one of the many timeouts he would call in the first half. The Hawks would finish the first quarter with 35 points on 68% shooting while assisting on 12 of their 15 made baskets. For reference, the Hawks registered just 13 total assists last Wednesday against the Miami Heat, so it was good to see the ball moving as it was.
The Hawks built upon their 11 point lead in the second quarter, stretching it to 17 points by the 5:30 mark before making a 20 point game and then, just to cap off a great half for the Hawks on both sides of the floor, the Hawks ended the quarter on a 9-0 run behind a Tim Hardaway Jr. three-pointer to take a 26 point lead into the locker room at the half.
Though the Magic did start the third quarter on a 9-2 run — forcing Bud into a timeout — the Hawks responded and, from there, this game never seemed in danger of slipping away. The hard work was done, the Hawks simply needed to maintain the gap they had built and they did. The majority of the starters did not play in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks a very solid game but it’s hard to get too carried away because, at the end of the day, this is not a very good Orlando Magic team and the Hawks should be taking care of bad teams like this. And look, to be fair, the Hawks haven’t always taken care of business as they should have but they did last night and you have to give them credit for that. You just have to be careful not to get too carried away.
Defense a tale for both teams
It’s no secret the Hawks’ defense has been an issue of late. Prior to the Rockets game on Thursday night, the Hawks had been allowing their opponents to score an average of 62 first half points over their last five games before the Houston game. After allowing the Rockets just 50 points in the first half, the Hawks followed up with another good defensive first half, holding the Magic to just 39 first half points. For the game, the Hawks held the Magic to just 86 points on 35% shooting from the field. They did what they had to do.
“It was us challenging ourselves. We knew that the last three or four games we’ve been letting our opponents get 30-plus points in the first quarter. We just wanted to set a tone on the defensive end.” — Tim Hardaway Jr.
Meanwhile for the Magic it was quite a different story. Their defense was woeful at times, the Hawks were able to get the rim almost at will (Bismack Biyombo proving to be the only bit of resistance at times for the Magic) and, at times, the Magic defense parted like the Red Sea. Of course, this infuriated defensive guru Frank Vogel, how frustrating must it have been for him — having coached all of those Indiana teams that excelled on defense — to watch his team last night?
“It was a terrible defensive effort. It’s disappointing.” — Coach Frank Vogel
The Magic could’ve used the ‘tired’ excuse having played against the Raptors (and won, to give them credit) on Friday night, but acknowledged they couldn’t have been “that tired”:
“Of course in a back-to-back you are tired, but you can’t be that tired after two minutes (the Magic conceded three baskets within the first two minutes of the game). It was just an awareness thing, I guess. They basically punked us. There’s not much to say.” — Evan Fournier
Hard to disagree with Evan here, there’s really not a lot to say about the Magic’s defense in this game. It. Was. Not. Good.
Timmy picking up where he left off
After exploding for 23 fourth quarter points — and a career high 33 points — against the Rockets on Thursday night, THJ (again starting for the injured Thabo Sefolosha) show no signs of slowing down. His confidence was still oozing as this game began, THJ scored seven of his team’s first 13 points on his way to a tied game-high of 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field.
“He’s a special talent.” — Dwight Howard
That he sure is. There hasn’t really been a Kyle Korver hangover when he was traded and THJ is a huge reason as to why that has been the case. Since Korver was traded, Hardaway has averaged 15.1 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 37% shooting from behind the arc. Mike Dunleavy has also helped fill the Korver void, but it’s definitely been Hardaway who has stepped up big-time since the Korver trade. With each passing game THJ stands out (and there are more and more of them these days), the more interesting his impending free agency becomes. THJ is a restricted free agent this summer.
I’m not going to say anything here, just watch, appreciate, marvel etc. this wonderful sequence from the Hawks in the third quarter.
— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 5, 2017
Everyone had a say about this play postgame:
“Hawks basketball at its finest. We have to continue to keep doing it, do it for 48 minutes. If we play like that, we not only make ourselves happy we make the coaching staff happy. And it makes us happy to go and get a defensive stop on the other end and do it again.” — Tim Hardaway Jr.
Oh, it made the coaches happy, that’s for sure…
“Those kinds of possessions, I think it fuels our whole group. Everybody understands how important it is that we move the ball, play with the pass and move people. Those put the stamp on what we do every day in practice, what we do on film. I think the guys know how hard they work on passing and moving the ball. It’s great no matter who ends up on the end of it.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
An absolutely beautiful play.
So…it’s the fourth quarter, it’s garbage time, the end of the bench guys are in, the game is beginning to wind down and Taurean Prince is shooting some free throws. And then the chants broke out…
— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 5, 2017
No, these were not for Taurean Prince or any Hawk. It had been announced that Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan, was named as the 2016-17 NFL MVP. As the game wound down, more and more Falcon chants broke out around Philips Arena (as well as a wave) as the city prepare themselves for the game of their lives. Superbowl 51.
“Everybody in the arena heard them tonight. I’m so happy for Matt. He’s had an unbelievable year. What the Falcons have been able to do this year has been great. We just want to see them top it off with a championship. I think this is Atlanta’s year. Atlanta has been rising, not just the teams but the city. I think this will be good for the city.” — Dwight Howard
Good luck, Falcons. I’ll be rooting for you. How big would this be for the city of Atlanta? I’m not even from the city and I know how big this is. I hope they bring it home.
The Hawks (30-21) are back in action on Monday night, kicking off a three game home stand against Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz.