Surging Hawks look to keep rolling against Magic

Two teams headed in different directions meet on Tuesday when the streaking Atlanta Hawks host the struggling Orlando Magic.

The Hawks defeated Indiana 129-117 on Sunday and have won eight of their last 10. They are 17-6 since interim coach Nate McMillan took over on March 1 and are closing in on their first playoff appearance since 2017.

Orlando fell 114-110 to the Houston Rockets on Sunday and has lost two straight and eight of its last nine. The Magic have made the playoffs the last two years but are currently outside the postseason bubble.

After blowing a 20-point lead to the Pacers, the Hawks finished with a flurry. They outscored Indiana 22-10 over the final five minutes after the game was tied 107-107. Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Trae Young all had key 3-pointers during that final stretch.

“We executed those last five minutes the way we needed to,” McMillan said.

Huerter has flourished since being moved to small forward. On Sunday he played 40 minutes and scored 23 points, making 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range. Over the last three games he is averaging 18.7 points on 59.5 percent shooting, including 58.8 percent from behind the arc.

Over the last 11 games, Bogdanovic is averaging 22.5 points and is shooting 51.5 percent on 3-pointers. He has raised his 3-point percentage from 29.9 percent on March 13 to 41.7 percent.

Atlanta center Clint Capela has been on a nice run. Over his last nine games — all of them double-doubles — he’s averaging 20 points, 15.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks and is shooting 65.7 percent from the floor. He had 25 points and 24 rebounds on Sunday, his second 20-20 game of the season.

“I definitely don’t think we win this game without him being on the floor,” McMillan said.

The Hawks also benefited from the return of forward John Collins, who was on a minutes restriction after missing nine games with a left ankle sprain. Collins scored eight points in his return, and McMillan said it was likely the veteran would have his load gradually increased.

The Magic are a different team since trading Nikola Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Wendell Carter, Otto Porter and a pair of first-round picks on March 25. Carter has four double-doubles since coming to Orlando and went for 11 points and 10 rebounds on Sunday. Porter has played only three games with the Magic and is out with left foot pain.

“I just want us to try to put 48 minutes together, where we’re good at both ends of the floor, we’re playing more purposeful basketball, and that is what we have to do so guys can grow,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said. “A big part of this last stretch, and not just for the younger players but particularly for them, is that guys improve and get better. And that can only happen if you’re playing the right way.”

The Hawks won the only meeting between the two clubs this season, prevailing 115-112 on March 3 in Orlando. That was the Magic’s fifth loss of a nine-game losing streak. Atlanta’s Young scored 32 points and Orlando’s Vucevic went for 29 points and nine rebounds.

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