Atlanta Hawks center Tiago Splitter (11) goes to the basket against Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. John Bazemore AP Photo
The Hawks played at home on MLK Day against the Orlando Magic. After winning the their last game against the Brooklyn Nets in great fashion, the team seemed to carry on that momentum into this game as well.
Al Horford led all Hawks scorers with 15 points and 7 rebounds, and Paul Millsap posted 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. As for Orlando, Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 18 points and 7 rebounds.
The Hawks got off to a quick start in the first quarter with a 14-5 lead. The Magic played sloppy with the ball and had 6 early turnovers in which Elfrid Payton was credited with 3 of them. Paul Millsap had 9 points in the first and it seemed as if the Hawks would run away with the game quickly, but the Hawks began to cool off and Magic trimmed into the lead. In the beginning of the second quarter, the Hawks scored 7 unanswered points. Tiago Splitter showed up big for the Hawks in the second quarter scoring 6 straight points with easy layups in the paint. The team jumped out to a 14 point lead and shot 56% to finish the half.
Orlando found some spark in the second half from two Elfrid Payton 3 point shots and Evan Fournier hit one to trim the lead down to 6. The Magic had a series of opportunities to cut the deficit more, but costly turnovers and bad shot selections stalled their run. Jeff Teague went on a run of his own with consecutive 3’s and the lead was up by to 14. In the beginning of the fourth, Al Horford came out and nailed a three pointer and caught an alley the following possession. Soon after, the Hawks as a whole shut Orlando down defensively and started hitting their shots, and the lead grew to 22. With 6:21 remaining , Coach Bud brought in the bench and the game seemed over from there.
In the past two games, the Hawks have shown glimpses of last year’s success with their pass-happy offense and streaky defense. Atlanta starts a 4 game west coast road trip on Wednesday night against the Portland Trailblazers. Late tip-off at 10:30 pm on FSSE and nationally televised on ESPN.
Malik Brown (@Retro_Boy_)