Denton: Magic vs. Hawks Analysis (12/29/13)

   

Harris had 17 points, including a thunderous dunk on Atlanta’s Paul Millsap in the fourth quarter. Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis added 16 points, while reserve forward Maurice Harkless scored all 11 of his points in the first half. Jameer Nelson chipped in eight assists and 10 points, seven of those points coming in the decisive fourth quarter.

Still reeling from the loss of all-star power forward Al Horford to a season-ending pectoral injury, the Hawks came to Orlando fatigued after winning in overtime a night earlier against Charlotte. The Magic’s six-game home stand – the longest of the season – comes to an end on Tuesday when they host the Golden State Warriors at 5 p.m.

Vaughn was quick to call a timeout early in the third period when his team was sluggish just after halftime. But the Magic quickly awoke from the slumber and began sharing the ball well again. Twice Orlando has plays that led to baskets for Harris – one to a cutting Harris for a dunk and one to Harris in the corner for an open 3-pointer.

Orlando led by as much as 11 points in the third period, but it allowed the Hawks to creep back to 79-76 by the start of the fourth quarter.

Vaughn was happy with the resolve that his team showed, especially after the Hawks briefuly surged into the lead in the fourth quarter.

Said Vaughn: ``This was the best overall that I’ve seen our team stay the course throughout the game. I think that unselfishness allows you to continue to be joined together and stay the course.’’ The Magic shot 60 percent for the first quarter and a half and made 54.8 percent in the first two quarters to lead 56-49 at intermission. The game easily could have been much more lopsided considering that Orlando had a 28-6 edge on points in the paint and a 14-2 lead in fastbreak points.

The Hawks stayed close by hitting nine first-half 3-pointers, including one from Kyle Korver, who extended his streak to 100 straight games with at least one 3-point basket.

Maurice Harkless, who has been in and out of the rotation of late, got the Magic a nice spark with his hustle early in the game. During one stretch of the second quarter, a hustling Harkless had a lob basket, a 3-pointer and a dazzling alley-oop dunk. Later in the half, Harkless returned the favor by throwing up a perfect lob pass to Tobias Harris for a fastbreak basket.

Oladipo had just four points in the first half, but he was the best player on the floor much of the time because of his ability to do so many other things. He dived on the floor for a gritty steal, had a spectacular chase-down block of a Shelvin Mack layup and he converted two free throws just before the first half horn.

Oladipo checked into the game late in the first quarter and had an immediate impact with a stellar sequence of plays. First, he beautifully executed a pick-and-roll play and fed Vucevic for a dunk. Seconds later, Oladipo converted a difficult scoop shot around Atlanta rookie Dennis Schroder in transition. Then, Oladipo knocked the ball away from Jeff Teague for a steal that led to a three-point play on the other end for E’Twaun Moore.

``He’s pretty impressive and he’s just starting this thing,’’ Vaughn said of Oladipo. ``Different stretches throughout the night and you get a sense that (Oladipo) wants to do something special. I think his teammates enjoy playing with him. His overall energy every night is fun to be around.’’

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