Tired Hawks face Magic, seek first back-to-back wins

NBA Basketball
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The Atlanta Hawks may be playing on fumes on Monday when they face the Magic in Orlando, Fla.

The Hawks needed two overtimes to defeat the New York Knicks 140-135 on Sunday. John Collins played 49 minutes and Trae Young, DeAndre Hunter and Kevin Huerter each logged 47 minutes.

“The back-to-back … it’s tough,” Young said. “It’s the NBA, though. All we do is work and play. We have to be pros because that’s what we’re called to do.”

The Magic had Sunday off after losing 111-95 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Orlando has dropped three straight and eight of its past nine.

The Hawks are 2-0 against the Magic this season. Atlanta won 103-99 on Oct. 26 when Young scored 39 points and prevailed 101-93 on Dec. 30 when G League product Brandon Goodwin came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points.

Atlanta is trying to sweep a back-to-back for the first time this season. The Hawks have split three and lost both games six times.

Orlando is led by Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier, who both have a history of success against Atlanta. Vucevic averages 18.8 points and 10.9 rebounds and has a team-leading 26 double-doubles. He scored 16 points in the first meeting with Atlanta. Fournier averages 18.6 points and has led the team in scoring 18 times on the year; he scored 23 and 22 in the two games against Atlanta.

Orlando has the same record (22-31) it did a year ago before sprinting to a 20-9 finish to make the playoffs.

“I don’t know if we’ll make a similar run, but we can play better,” coach Steve Clifford said. “You want to make the playoffs and be playing in a manner where you can play well, and that to me is what these games are for. But we need to make progress, particularly offensively.”

The Magic hope to have forward James Ennis available for Monday’s game. Ennis was acquired at the deadline last week from Philadelphia, where he averaged 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds.

Atlanta already is starting to benefit from its flurry of deadline trades. Dewayne Dedmon, reacquired by Atlanta, finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots before fouling out in overtime against the Knicks.

Dedmon enjoyed two productive seasons with the Hawks before signing with Sacramento. That didn’t work out for the veteran center, who was shipped back to Atlanta with a pair of draft choices for Alex Len and Jabari Parker. Dedmon was pleased to be returning to the Hawks, and the team was happy to have the mobile big man in the middle.

“It’s great to have Dewayne back,” Young said. “We need to get everybody back, get Clint here, get Skal, and get going.”

Young was referring to centers Clint Capela and Skal Labissiere, another pair of deadline acquisitions. Capela was with the team in street clothes on Sunday, but won’t be available to play until after the All-Star Game because of a right heel issue. The team didn’t give a timeline on Labissiere, who has not played since Dec. 28 because of a left knee injury.

The Hawks continue to play without forward Cam Reddish, who has missed four games with a concussion.

–Field Level Media

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