Josh Smith and Al Horford are vibing together this season and this game against the Orlando Magic echoes everything that we have said about them. They carried the Atlanta Hawks to victory of 86-80 over the Magic in a game that started to get a little too close for comfort.
Atlanta jumped out to a 16-2 lead early in the first but Orlando would fight back to make it 20-15, Hawks advantage, by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter helped mark the return of Kyle Korver as he came in the game hitting three pointers. Al Horford started to settle into his own in the second also as the Hawks led by 12 (46-34) at the half.
In the second half the Hawks wanted to take care of the ball (seven first half turnovers which led to 12 points for Orlando) and continue to play good defense. They did both as Josh Smith blocked some big shots early in the third and through good defense, Atlanta got some good looks at the rim. Zaza Pachulia nailed a three quarter court shot at the buzzer of the third quarter, which would have been his first three point make ever, but the officials determined that it was after the buzzer and it did not count. Atlanta held the 12 point advantage going into the fourth quarter with both teams scoring 26 points in the third.
After that shot at the buzzer Zaza Pachulia got his juices flowing and he started the fourth quarter making plays on both ends of the floor. Glen Davis (10 points, seven rebounds), Jameer Nelson (12 points), J.J. Reddick (13 points)and Arron Afflalo (16 points) would not allow the Magic to lay down and the Hawks allowed them to stay in the game by continuously shooting jumpers instead of going to the basket. Coach Larry Drew would go on to say at the end of the game that the Hawks need to develop a killer instinct to take teams out when they have the big lead (Atlanta was up by 18 at one point). Orlando would pull to within six points but just were not talented enough to get any closer as time wound down to see Atlanta victorious.
Josh Smith and Jeff Teague both scored 16 points, Smith would have eleven rebounds and five blocks (ties a career high for a game) to go with his. Al Horford charted his seventh game in a row with a double-double, he scored 13 points and grabbed 13 boards. Lou Williams came off the bench to add 11 points to the Hawks total.
Up next for the Hawks is a trip back to "The Highlight Factory" where they will host the Charlotte Bobcats.
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