Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY
Pace is so key to everything the Magic want to do and want to become. They want to push the pace more and use their athleticism to generate easy baskets. That start with their defense too. When it all works together, the Magic can be a very dangerous team with their pasing ability and Victor Oladipo's ability to attack on the break.
It has been a while since the Magic have seen this work out so well. This has been a difficult stretch for the Magic with losses beginning to pile up. Orlando had not even won a road game.
Tuesday's 109-92 win over the Hawks showed exactly what the Magic can be when they control the pace and grind out victories. Even if it lasts only 24 minutes.
The Magic hung tough in the first quarter as their defense seemed just a bit slow and a bit lost on the defensive end. Orlando turned things around completely in the second half. The team scored 36 points in the third quarter and worked the ball around offensively to get the best shot.
Jameer Nelson drove and dished his way to eight third-quarter assists and the Magic defense put the clamps down, preventing the Hawks from getting the 3-pointers that helped them build a lead and take control of the game through the first half. The Magic just kept grinding the game out and eventually exerted their will.
That was what the game really came down to. Whose will would win in the end?
The Magic's will won out.
Orlando finished shooting 50.6 percent from the floor and had 29 assists on the team's 42 field goal makes. Nikola Vucevic had 12 points and 15 rebounds. Arron Afflalo scored 26 points, making four of seven 3-pointers.
Victor Oladipo bounced back from four first-half fouls to score 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting and dish out five assists. That included a vicious crossover on Jeff Teague that ended with a one-handed jam over Paul Millsap and Al Horford. That was the exclamation point on the game.
E'Twaun Moore was also big, providing a hug lift off the bench. Moore scored 12 points. Andrew Nicholson was big too with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Each had big shots to keep the Magic afloat, aggressively attacking the basket and looking to attack. When they were open, they made their shots. That is the key to any game.
The Hawks cooled off considerably in the second half, shooting 32.4 percent from the floor in the second half and 2 for 8 from beyond the arc. It was a huge turnaround. The Magic's defense played with more energy and more cohesion. Orlando was simply the better team.
All that work to keep the ship afloat in the first half paid off when the team came together so strong in the second.
The Magic did a better job preventing Jeff Teague from getting into the paint and denying Al Horford the ball. This was one of the better games Orlando has played all year. The team deserved the win with the effort and execution it put in during the second half.
The team still has work to do to repreat this effort. That is always the most difficult trick. And there is another game coming to prove it.