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Hawks 86, Magic 80

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO -The Atlanta Hawks beat the Orlando Magic for the eighth consecutive time Wednesday night, riding center Al Horford, power forward Josh Smith and another strong defensive performance to an 86-80 victory.

Horford had 13 points and 13 rebounds, his seventh consecutive double-double. Smith had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots. Guard Jeff Teague had 16 points.

The Hawks have the third best record in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Knicks and the Heat.

The Magic (8-13) were led by Arron Afflalo with 16 points and reserve J.J. Redick with 13 points.

The Hawks (13-6), who have become one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, never trailed in the second half. The Magic never got closer than six points.

The Magic, who were coming off a successful, West Coast trip (3-2), struggled throughout the night, hitting just 38.3 percent from the field.

The Hawks let a 14-point lead in the first half disappear, but the 19-point lead they built early in the second half was enough to withstand a late charge by the Magic.

Less than five minutes into the second half - and frustrated by his team's lack of energy -- Magic coach Jacque Vaughn called time out and made a five-man substitution, yanking his entire starting lineup.

The Hawks led, 46-34, at intermission, dominating both the beginning and the end of the first half.

The Hawks opened a 16-2 lead to start the game, briefly lost their lead, then closed the second quarter with a 11-2 run.

It took the Magic almost five minutes to score their first points. Smith, who is having another All-Star-worthy season, had 10 points and two blocks by intermission.

Kyle Korver, who returned after missing the previous five games, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half. The Magic's 34 points at intermission were the fewest anyone has scored against the Hawks in the first half this season.

NOTES: Korver had missed the past five games with back spasms and tending to the birth of his first child . . . Veteran Anthony Morrow made his first start of the season Wednesday, replacing DeShawn Stevenson, who was being rested because of tired knees. The Hawks play Thursday night in Atlanta against the Bobcats. Stevenson, a 12-year veteran, has not played on back-to-back nights this season. "It's just a decision we have made," said coach Larry Drew before Wednesday's game. . . . . . Drew had no complaints about the NBA giving center Zaza Pachulia an official warning under the new rules against flopping. Pachulia was found guilty of his acting job Friday night when he tried to sell a foul that never happened. He was the first Hawks player to receive a warning this season and the eighth player in the NBA. . . . . .The Magic went into the game last in free throws attempted per game (17.25), while the Hawks (19.58) were 28th in the league. . . . .The Magic still are without veteran forwards Al Harrington (knee), who has yet to play this season, and Hedo Turkoglu (broken left hand), who was hurt in the first game of the season. "Offensively, we've grown as a team," said Vaughn, when asked to assess his team after 20 games.
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