Magic edge Hawks on Vucevic buzzer beater
Orlando, Fla. — Another big lead got away from the Orlando Magic in the fourth quarter Sunday, but one big shot got it back just in time.
Nik Vucevic hit an 18-footer at the buzzer and the Magic beat the Atlanta Hawks 96-94, winning for only the third time in 18 games in 2016.
“It’s been a rough month for us, a lot of losses, so it’s good to get a win against a good team,” said Vucevic, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, but had three fourth-quarter turnovers to aid Atlanta’s comeback. “I wasn’t happy about those and I wanted to make up for it.”
Elfrid Payton, who set up Vucevic’s winning shot with an inbounds pass with 2.2 seconds left, scored or assisted the Magic’s final six baskets. Until Vucevic’s game-winning shot, the Magic had gone scoreless since Payton’s jump shot with 3:41 left, squandering a 94-86 lead. It was the kind of fourth-quarter letdown Magic coach Scott Skiles has witnessed repeatedly since the first of the year.
“We’ve had a lot of games where we appeared to have control of the game,” Skiles said, “but the rebound you’re supposed to get, or the three you’re not supposed to give up, or the shot you’re supposed to take, you don’t do it. But we’ll take the win.”
It was the Magic’s fourth win in their last 21 games against the Hawks.
Jeff Teague scored 24 for the Hawks, who had won three straight. Kent Bazemore finished with 23 points and eight rebounds for Atlanta.
Big starts by Vucevic and Even Fournier, along with seven Atlanta turnovers, staked the Magic to an early 14-point lead, and Orlando led 48-41 after a first half in which the Hawks shot 34 percent (14 for 41).
The margin was back to 14 until Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha finished the third quarter with a 3-point bank shot from beyond the mid-court line.
A jumper by Victor Oladipo put the magic up 73-60, but Teague scored seven of nine straight Atlanta points early in the fourth quarter, in which the Hawks made six 3-pointers. A 3-pointer by Bazemore with 48 seconds left pulled the Hawks even for the first time since their 4-2 lead in the first minute.
“We have to stop putting ourselves in that situation of being down 14 on the road,” said Hawks forward Paul Milsap. “It is unacceptable. You make it tough on yourself when you dig yourself that hole.”
Hawks: C Tiago Splitter sat out a fourth straight game with a hip injury and will rest through the All-Star break. … After shooting 52 percent during their three-game win streak, the Hawks shot just 38.5 percent.
Magic: F Tobias Harris, who took stitches in his head after a collision in the fourth quarter Friday night, missed his first game of the season with a sore left ankle. .,. The Magic are 5-7 in a league-high 12 games decided by three points or fewer.
The Magic and Hawks play in Atlanta on Monday night.
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