EditorsNote: 2nd graf, make Vucevic rebounds 20; 9th graf, Gordon 9 points in quarter; 10th graf, should be ‘led by 14’; 12th graf, Kevin not Evan
Nikola Vucevic scored 17 of his 27 points in the first quarter and the Orlando Magic remained in the chase for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 101-91 win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.
Vucevic scored the first 13 points of the game for Orlando and 17 of the team’s first 19. He finished 10-for-20 from the field, the 32nd time this season he’s led the team in scoring, and grabbed 20 rebounds for his team-leading 52nd double-double.
Orlando, vying for its first playoff spot since 2010-11, has won two in a row and all three games against Atlanta. They complete the season series on April 5 in Orlando.
The Magic (33-38) trail Miami (33-36) by one game for the eighth spot in the playoffs. Miami defeated Charlotte 93-75 on Sunday. They meet one last time this season in Miami on March 26.
Orlando also got 22 points and eight rebounds from Aaron Gordon and 14 points and seven rebounds from reserve Wes Iwundu.
Trae Young led Atlanta with 20 points and five assists. Alex Len scored 13 and Dewayne Dedmon finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds. John Collins only played 20 minutes before fouling out with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Orlando won the game by outshooting Atlanta 26-7 at the free throw line.
The Magic used Vucevic’s quick start and led by as many as nine points in the first quarter before Atlanta closed it to 28-25 going into the second period.
Orlando was able to build the lead in the second quarter after Collins picked up his third foul and was summoned to the bench. Gordon was able to muscle his way for nine points in the quarter with Collins on the bench and Orlando led 56-46 at intermission.
Orlando continued to expand its lead in the third quarter and led by 14 when Iwundu made a pair of free throws with 3:45 to make it 72-58. The scrappy Hawks were able cut the lead to 75-68 on a jumper by Jaylen Adams with 28.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
Atlanta, which erased a 25-point lead to tie the Celtics on Saturday, tried to put another fourth-quarter comeback together on Sunday.
The Hawks cut the lead to five points when Collins scored on an alley-oop from Young with 3:05 left and again on Young’s basket with 2:14 left that made it 92-87. But back-to-back baskets by D.J. Augustin and Evan Fournier stretched the lead back to nine points and enabled the Magic to put the game away.
—Field Level Media