ATLANTA — Not so long ago, the Orlando Magic used to dominate the Atlanta Hawks.
Atlanta controls the rivalry now.
The Hawks extended their regular-season winning streak over the Magic to 11 consecutive games Saturday night, breaking open a close game in the final few minutes to defeat Orlando 104-94 at Philips Arena.
"The games are just a little bit more physical with them," said Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo. "I'm not sure of the history, but we'll be looking forward to trying and compete and play better against them next game."
Afflalo gave the Magic an 88-87 lead with 3:50 to go by sinking a corner 3-pointer, but the Hawks scored the next 10 points.
Hawks center — and longtime Magic nemesis — Al Horford ignited the run by sinking a pair of 18-foot jumpers.
Horford's rebounding, versatility as a scorer and ability to pass to open teammates have helped the Hawks dominate the Magic. So has the emergence of point guard Jeff Teague, who scored 19 points and distributed 13 assists. And so has the presence of a second rugged frontcourt player to complement Horford; in past seasons, it was Josh Smith, but now it's Paul Millsap.
Millsap added 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
The Magic (3-4) faded early in the second half, but recovered.
Atlanta started the third quarter on an 18-2 run, but Orlando responded with a 24-8 run of its own to creep back into the game.
Down 64-47, Nelson gave the offense a jolt by hitting a 3-pointer. Nik Vucevic followed with a turnaround jumper. And, after Horford hit a jumper, Afflalo responded with a 3-pointer of his own.
The Magic scored the game's next seven points on a layup by Andrew Nicholson, a free throw by Nicholson, a layup by Kyle O'Quinn and a jumper by O'Quinn.
"We fought our way back into the game," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "That unit that was on the floor gave us a lot of energy on the second night of a back-to-back."
But that desperate scramble to close the lead came at a price.
"That unit that got us back into the game did a great job," said Afflalo, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
"But when you do work that hard to get back, there's just no room for error at that point. We just couldn't close the game out tonight."
The Magic committed 18 turnovers and struggled from the free-throw line for the second night in a row, making just 10 of their 18 foul shots.
The Hawks (3-3) received a boost from their bench, including second-year forward Mike Scott, who scored 17 points.
The Hawks' winning streak over the Magic started on Nov. 8, 2010 — about six months after Orlando swept Atlanta in the second round of the 2010 playoffs by an average margin of victory of almost 25 points per game.
The following spring, Atlanta eliminated Orlando from the first round of the 2010 playoffs in six games.
Back then, the Hawks were more athletic than Orlando at both forward positions, starting Horford at power forward and Smith at small forward.
The Magic entered Saturday ranked second in the NBA in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 39.1 percent shooting.
Atlanta made 47.8 percent of its shots.
"Their guys hit shots," Magic small forward Maurice Harkless said. "They took the shots we wanted them to take, really. But they just hit them."
The Magic haven't won a regular-season game in Atlanta since Nov. 26, 2009.
They'll have one more chance to end that road losing streak this season.
They'll face the Hawks again at Philips Arena on Nov. 26 — exactly four years since their last victory in Georgia.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun