The Atlanta Hawks will try to get back into the winners column Wednesday night when they finish a short road trip in Orlando against the Magic.
The Hawks fell to the defending champion Miami Heat Monday, 101-92, to end a three-game winning streak. Josh Smith scored 22 points and handed out six assists. Al Horford notched his sixth straight double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds and is only two away from matching a career-best streak of eight. Horford is one of two players, along with David Lee of the Golden State Warriors, in the NBA to average 16.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 3.0 apg.
But the Hawks competed until the second half. They were doomed by poor 3-point shooting. Atlanta went 9-for-28 from beyond the arc, which is uncharacteristic for a team that likes to score off turnovers and pound the ball into those bigs.
"We made just entirely too many mistakes, too many mental mistakes," said head coach Larry Drew. "We just didn't play well enough, just had too many lapses. They capitalized."
There's no shame in losing in Miami and Atlanta is still putting up some impressive defensive numbers. The Hawks rank sixth in the NBA in points allowed and 10th in opponents' field-goal percentage. They force the second- most turnovers in the league and are third in scoring off said mistakes.
The Magic have been resting since a five-game west trip ended with a 98-90 victory in Phoenix over the Suns. The Magic went 3-2 on their longest sojourn away from home this season, including a great win at the start of the quest against former star Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's very important, especially for us after we go into it 5-10 with five games coming up on the road against tough competition," J.J. Redick said of their winning trip. "We knew this would be a challenge and for us to come away with a winning record it was a big step for our group."
The bench keyed the victory Sunday over the Suns. Redick had 20 points on 4- for-8 shooting from the 3-point line and rookie Andrew Nicholson continued his improvement with a 19-point performance. It was the St. Bonaventure product's second straight game in double-figure scoring.
The Magic shot 56 percent from the field in the second half in Phoenix and had 16 assists on their 19 made baskets over the final 24 minutes. Orlando's starting group struggled, especially point guard Jameer Nelson, who had four points, three assists and three turnovers. The Magic committed 18 turnovers, but still came away with the victory.
The Hawks have won seven straight against the Magic, including an 81-72 victory in Atlanta on Nov. 19. Orlando will play six of their next eight in the Magic Kingdom, where it is 4-5 this season.