A pair of Southeast Division foes jockeying for playoff position get together tonight in the Magic Kingdom, where the Atlanta Hawks take on the Orlando Magic from Amway Center.
Both the Hawks and Magic are even with fourth-seeded Boston in the Eastern Conference, and sit two games behind Indiana for the third spot. Atlanta has won the first two meetings with Orlando this season and hasn't swept a series with its Southeast co-tenants since winning all five matchups back in the 1989-90 campaign.
The Hawks had won three in a row and four of five games before dropping an 88-86 overtime decision at Boston on Wednesday. Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 21 points and Josh Smith recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Atlanta, which will close out a three-game road trip tonight and is 15-16 away from Philips Arena this season.
"I thought we allowed their pressure to speed us up," said Hawks head coach Larry Drew. "We had some bad possessions in that overtime. We had some bad possessions going down the stretch of the game. You know when you go into the tail end of close games you have to be able to execute, you've got to come up with making plays, and we didn't make the plays."
After visiting Orlando the Hawks will close out the regular season with six of seven games at home.
The Magic have fallen on hard times recently and are just 2-6 in their past eight games. All-Star center Dwight Howard is still bothered by back spasms and has missed two straight and four of six contests. Howard is doubtful for Friday and is averaging 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds this season.
Orlando dropped a 93-85 decision to lowly Washington on Tuesday, as Jameer Nelson led the way with 19 points to go with seven assists, J.J. Redick netted 15 points and Quentin Richardson chipped in 14 in a losing effort.
"We had some guys who were tired tonight," said Magic forward Jason Richardson, who posted 10 points. "Not taking anything from D.C. because they played well, but we didn't have the same kind of energy we've had in those last two games."
Glen Davis provided 12 points and 10 boards for Orlando, which will try to work off a 19-11 home record this evening. Magic guard Chris Duhon is also doubtful for Friday due to a sore foot.