Culture of Hoops

Orlando Magic upend division rival Atlanta Hawks

Image courtesy of RMTip21/Flickr

Image courtesy of RMTip21/Flickr

Looking to build off arguably their best performance of the season against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, the Orlando Magic welcomed the beaten and battered Atlanta Hawks to town Sunday. The night saw the Magic take home another hard fought win, beating the visiting Hawks 109-102. It was the Magic’s second win in three match-ups with the Hawks this season, with the final one coming in January in Orlando.

From the start, Orlando looked like the better team on both ends of the floor. The Magic were able to move the ball well and find the best looks possible on seemingly every possession. While the Hawks were able to use their hot three-point shooting to keep themselves in the game, their inability to string together stops and score inside consistently put a strain on their entire game.

Orlando brought forth one of its most balanced scoring efforts of the season. Seven players, including Arron Afflalo and his team-high 21 points, finished in double figures on the night. Tobias Harris poured in 17, including a nasty posterization of Paul Millsap. Big men Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic each added 16 points, with Vucevic finishing with a game-high 14 rebounds as well. Three other Magic men -Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless and Jameer Nelson – finished with 15, 11 and 10, respectively.

The Hawks, who have been hit with the injury bug as of late, struggled to find consistent scoring for stretches of the game. Jeff Teague led the charge for Atlanta with a game-high 22 and eight assists. Lou Williams, starting in place of the injured DeMarre Carroll, knocked down four three-pointers en route to 18 points. Paul Millsap got to the line a game-high ten times, making eight of them, to finish with 17 points and seven rebounds. Shelvin Mack led the Hawks bench with 14 points, and a team-high tying four three-pointers.

Magic Game Notes

After their most complete game of the season Friday against Detroit, the Magic put together yet another solid performance from the start on Sunday. It was very important for the team to come out and try to build off of Friday night’s performance. Their ability to score in multiple ways and really push the tempo helped them put pressure on Atlanta’s defense throughout the night. While they hit seven fewer threes than the Hawks, they had a 29-point advantage in points in the paint and fast break points. It’s good to see the young Magic squad put together a few wins, especially at home before heading out west early in January.

Oladipo’s Growth
In his last two games, rookie Victor Oladipo has shown improvements on both ends of the floor. He’s been able to score the ball efficiently while also distributing the ball and finding his teammates at a high rate. In those two contests, Oladipo has scored 31 points and dished out 19 assists. After the game, Oladipo said that he’s starting to feel more comfortable as a ball handler and is able to read defenses better than he was early on. It’s an important step for the young man who’s learning a new position on the fly, and the sky appears to be the limit for him on both ends of the floor.

Ball Movement
Extra pass after extra pass, the Magic found the best shot possible on nearly every possession. The teams 30 assists were a season-high, surpassing the 29 they had against the Hawks in their first win against their division rivals. There have been times this season where the ball appears to stick on one side of the floor, or times where no one was moving. That was not a problem on Sunday night. It’s something that they really need to work on to get down consistently if they want to continue to win ball games.

Three-Point Defense
The Hawks hit 15 of 39 shots from three. The only thing that kept Atlanta afloat on Sunday was their ability to knock down the three ball consistently. The Magic came into the night with the fifth worst opponent three-point shooting percentage, and their struggles defending it showed early and often on Sunday. It’s a major concern for the team, especially with a team that shoots the three more than anyone else in Golden State coming to town on Tuesday. It’s early, but that and their defense as a whole must tighten up for them to really string together some wins.

Stat of the Night
The Magic were able to get out and push the ball with ease, finishing with 22 fast break points on 9-for-9 shooting. It’s something that the team feels is important to make teams pay for their mistakes and not let them get back and set their defense, allowing for easier buckets.

Jacque Vaughn on his team’s energy…

“I think that across the board we had a lot of guys that got on the floor and I think that you just saw explosive plays throughout the course of the night whether it was a couple of dunks at the rim, a couple of alley-oop passes and finishes, so it was good to see. It was good to see us getting out in transition but it all started with us sharing the basketball and playing defense.”

On Victor Oladipo…

“He’s pretty impressive and he’s just starting this thing. The challenge for him is those special moments throughout the course of the night but continue to be solid at the same time. I think his teammates enjoy playing with him and just his overall energy every night is fun to be around.”

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