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Hawks continue to dominate Magic

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- There is a lot different about the Atlanta Hawks this season. But one thing remains the same -- they own the Orlando Magic.

The Hawks won their 11th straight game over the Magic, 104-94, behind a balanced attack that featured six players in double figures. Forward Paul Milsap, one of eight new faces on the Hawks, led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Hawks overhauled their roster in the offseason and brought in longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer to help the franchise move up the ranks in the Eastern Conference. They're off to a 3-3 start and have scored at least 100 points in each game this season.

On Saturday, the Hawks had 43 field goals on 36 assists, but Budenholzer was more pleased with his team's defense and rebounding.

After giving up eight offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points in the first half, the Hawks didn't allow an offensive rebound or second-chance point in the second half.

It started with center Al Horford, Budenholzer said.

"Al Horford's defensive activity, his defensive will, has been great, not just tonight but since Day 1," Budenholzer said. "I think he's trying to lead our group defensively."

Horford, one of the few Atlanta mainstays, scored 15 points, and forward Mike Scott was big off the bench with 17.

"I just brought energy off the bench and played hard," Scott said. "I think I probably forced one or two of them (shots). When you're in that rhythm, you just keep going."

Up by four with two minutes to play, guard Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer from the wing, and guard Jeff Teague converted a turnover into a layup that extended the lead to 97-88. Teague finished with 19 points and 13 assists. The Hawks, who lead the league in steals, had nine on the night.

Guard Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 21 points and teamed with point guard Jameer Nelson to ignite an Orlando comeback in the third quarter, which featured big runs by each team.

Atlanta opened with an 18-2 run, highlighted by two 3-pointers from forward DeMarre Carroll and a slick up-and-under post move from Milsap. The Hawks' lead grew to 64-47 on a breakaway Carroll dunk, before the Magic fought back.

Nelson and Afflalo each hit 3-pointers, and rookie guard Victor Oladipo had a driving layup that helped cut the Hawks' lead down to one, 72-71, at the end of the third quarter.

"This was a tough loss," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "I told the guys that this one is on all of us, and we'll do a better job and finish things off next time."

After posting the league's worst record last season, the Magic have a much longer climb than the Hawks, who have reached the playoffs the past six seasons. But Orlando already owns wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers and has some promising young players like Oladipo and center Nikola Vucevic.

The Magic tried to get Vucevic involved, but the second-year man out of Southern Cal who has played well made just one of his first six shots and never got into a rhythm. Vucevic finished with seven points, and Oladipo was held to five.

The Hawks got off to a hot start, hitting 61.9 percent from the floor in the first quarter with assists on 11 of their first 13 field goals. They led by as many as eight in the first half, but almost all off their offense came from the perimeter. Horford, Milsap and Mike each stepped out to hit jumpers.

"They hit a lot of shots," said Magic forward Maurice Harkless. "They took the shots we wanted them to take, but they just hit them."

The Magic, in contrast, got most of their early scoring around the basket, with Affalo and forward Jason Maxiell converting good looks in the paint. Orlando outscored the Hawks 20-10 in the paint in the first half, but was down 46-45 at intermission.

The Hawks are at Charlotte on Monday. The Magic head to Boston on Monday.

NOTES: Atlanta G Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter to extend his streak to 79 games with at least one made three. Kover's streak is the third-longest in NBA history, behind Dana Barros (80 games) and Michael Adams (79). ... The Magic entered the game leading the NBA in rebounds per game (49.7). ... The Hawks entered the game leading the NBA in steals per game (10.8). ... Atlanta won all four meetings with the Magic last season. ... Hawks G Dennis Schroder returned after a one-game suspension for punching Sacramento Kings C DeMarcus Cousins in the groin. ... F Glen Davis (foot) and G Tobias Harris (ankle) remain out for the Magic. ... Hawks F Gustavo Ayon was active for the first time since the preseason opener with a shoulder injury, but did not play. Atlanta G Jared Cunningham and G Lou Williams were inactive.
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