Big third quarter powers Hawks past Magic

The Hawks downed the Magic 109-92 on Sunday at State Farm Arena.

Here are five observations.

1. The Hawks trailed the Magic, who were on the second night of back-to-back games, at the end of the first half. But a pair of 3s from Bogdan Bogdanovic opened the third quarter that tied the game at 51. It kicked off 38-19 run for the Hawks that turned the night around.

Atlanta was bolstered by a 16-point quarter from guard Dejounte Murray, who sliced apart the Magic’s defense on drives to the basket, before pulling up for his signature jumper from midrange. All but one of Murray’s five made baskets came from outside the restricted area, as he helped to spur the Hawks’ offense.

In the 12 minutes he played in the third, Murray accounted for nearly 61% of the team’s points. Along with his own scoring, he also had three assists, with seven points created from assists. He ended the night with a near triple-double, with 25 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists and two steals.

“Orlando’s really good defensively,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “If the ball stops, they’re just so big and they get shifted, I thought you saw that early in the game where we were driving into a crowd at times. And sometimes against them, that’s really hard. You have to make a quick decision really before you get in there. And those guys trusted each other and it was good to see and obviously, DJ was catalyst for a lot of that.”

2. The Hawks had 31 assists, despite not having Trae Young (left fifth finger; torn ligament). Hawks forward Jalen Johnson chipped in seven assists.

With the Hawks looking to keep the ball moving and avoid situations where it gets stuck on one side, they focused on moving the ball from side to side. Early in the third quarter, Johnson took a handoff from Murray before flipping it to Bogdanovic on the wing for a 3. On Bogdanovic’s second consecutive 3, Johnson found him in transition on the opposite wing to tie the game, shifting the momentum in their favor.

Johnson ended with 21 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and one steal.

3. But it was the Hawks getting stops in the third and holding the Magic to just 19 points. They swarmed them, got to their spots early and closed off space, so the Magic could not get easy drives to the basket. The Hawks also looked more aware and attacked closeouts much faster to not only chase the Magic off the free-throw line, but also force misses.

The Magic made only seven field goals in the third quarter, with just three of them coming from deep. The Hawks scored 21 points off the Magic’s 20 turnovers.

“When we run it opens the court, and particularly against those guys because they are so big,” Snyder said. “If you can attack them before they get set, your percentage chance of scoring goes up.”

4. Hawks rookie Kobe Bufkin played well defensively, a focus Snyder wanted him to have in his extended minutes on Sunday. Just one minute into checking in, Magic guard Cole Anthony looked to attack Bufkin’s inexperience.

Bufkin moved his feet and sent Anthony into a trap with Bruno Fernando. The bottleneck caused from Fernando’s help gave Bufkin time to slap the ball down and out of Anthony’s hands. Bufkin would send Anthony into traffic, again in the second quarter and the mayhem from the clogged lane forced an Anthony miscue.

Bufkin also made good reads on the offensive end, finding Bogdanovic for a 3 on the wing and then a 3/4 court pass to Johnson for an easy layup. He ended the night with two points, one rebound, three assists, one block and one steal.

“Kobe can hoop,” Johnson said. “So we just tell him to be himself.”

5. In his return to the court following his ejection on Friday, Snyder would not hold back on emotion as he celebrated what his team accomplished.

When Bufkin got into position and drew a charge, Snyder threw both hands in the air and celebrated a big call.

“I mean that’s something we want to celebrate, his charges,” he said. “I don’t know that my reactions are any different. There were some things to react to tonight that were really good, and obviously the effort we had on the defensive end.”

Stat to know

Atlanta held the Magic to a season-low 92 points in tonight’s win. It’s the first time since Jan. 28, 2022 versus the Celtics (108-92) that the Hawks have gave up 92 or fewer points.


“We followed the game plan. We was there for each other. We wanted to win” -- Murray on why they were connected Sunday.

Up Next

The Hawks host John Collins and the Jazz on Tuesday.