Hawks-Magic Preview

The Associated Press

After splitting meetings against two of the better teams in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks have to be feeling pretty good about their chances of coming away with a winning record on their three-game trip with a visit to Orlando in store.

The Hawks aim for an eighth consecutive victory over the Magic, who try to avoid losing four in a row at home for the first time in five years Wednesday night.

Atlanta (12-6) beat Memphis 93-83 on Saturday but couldn't keep up two nights later in a 101-92 loss at Miami. Josh Smith scored 22 points while Al Horford posted his sixth consecutive double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but the Hawks allowed the Heat to shoot a season-best 58.2 percent.

"We faced two of the top teams in our league in Memphis and Miami and we came away with a split," coach Larry Drew said. "A great road trip would have been to go 3-0, a good road trip is to go 2-1, so our focus right now is to make this a good road trip and hopefully we can get that done (Wednesday) night."

The Hawks have had their way with the Magic (8-12) of late, holding them to an average of 79.3 points during their seven-game winning streak - the longest by either team in the history of this series. Atlanta beat Orlando 81-72 on Nov. 19, scoring 24 points off 19 turnovers.

"I thought we did a really good job of controlling the tempo (in that game)," Drew said Tuesday. "Same ingredient needs to be (there Wednesday) night.

"This Magic team, they really play hard. ... Very capable ball club. We have to just come out and just focus on us and what we need to do."

After going 3-2 on its own trip, Orlando returns home, where it's been outscored by an average of 13.0 points during its skid. The Magic haven't been handed four consecutive losses on their own court since December 2007.

Orlando beat the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State before falling to Utah and Sacramento out west. The Magic bounced back Sunday with a 98-90 win over Phoenix.

They fell behind early but picked up the pace in the fourth quarter, going 11 for 17 (64.7 percent) from the field.

"I really looked at this game as an individual game. This is a resilient team tonight," said coach Jacque Vaughn, whose club shot a season-high 51.9 percent. "To culminate with 3-2 on the road. A resilient group especially after our start. We could have easily packed it in and went home."

Orlando matched a season best with 49 points off the bench Sunday. J.J. Redick scored 20 while rookie Andrew Nicholson posted season highs of 19 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists.

"He is a scorer," Vaughn said of Nicholson, who could be in line for a bigger role going forward. "He can do that so we are going to continue to work on other facets of his game and make him the best player he can be."

While the Magic continue to play without injured veterans Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu, Atlanta's Kyle Korver could return Wednesday following a five-game absence due to back spasms and the birth of his first child. Korver has averaged 17.0 points over his last four road games while going 15 for 20 from 3-point range.

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