Paul Millsap had to do it again.
For the second straight game, the Hawks forward pulled the team together to refocus their efforts as a victory was about to slip away.
Atlanta couldn’t hold a 19-point lead but rallied with under a minute left to defeat Orlando 112-109 Wednesday night at the Amway Center.
Pero Antic hit four straight free throws, the final two coming with 11.1 seconds remaining, to cap the wild back-and-forth game. Antic was fouled on the rebound of a Glen Davis miss for the final points.
Millsap led the Hawks with 24 points, six rebounds, five assists, five blocks and three steals. Millsap also called teammates together as the Hawks rallied back for a win over the Heat Monday.
“I think it’s becoming my job, my 9-to-5,” Millsap joked following the victory. “We were falling apart a little bit. They were making a run. We didn’t just want to call it quits then. We needed to regroup and get back on the right track.”
The Hawks (22-19) won their second straight and ended a three-game road losing streak. They are three games over .500 at the half-way point of the season.
Team teams finished their season series tied 2-2.
After trailing by many as six points in the fourth quarter despite the double-digit lead, Millsap gave the Hawks a one-point lead, 106-105, with a three-point play with 1:42 remaining. The Magic got back-to-back baskets from Victor Oladipo and Jameer Nelson to take a 109-106 led with under a minute remaining. The Hawks got two free throws each from Jeff Teague and Antic, his coming with 22.8 seconds left, to regain the lead at 110-109. The Hawks would not give the lead back.
“It’s easier to make free throws, to be honest,” Antic said. “I hate when I have a terrible shooting night. It wasn’t feeling it but I have to shoot it. That is my game. That is what we work on. I spread the floor. They let me shoot. That confused me a little bit. They didn’t contest. Overall, I’m happy that we won. I was frustrated with my shot from the 3-point line but at the free-throw line I can set my body, I can set my feet and I’m experienced enough to knock them out and I’m happy that I did it.”
A much-more aggressive Teague added 23 points. DeMarre Carroll (17), Kyle Korver (12), Antic (10), Shelvin Mack (10) and Mike Scott (10) all finished in double-digits. Antic added 12 rebounds. Korver extended his NBA-record streak to 110 games with a 3-pointer.
Teague, who sat the final 17 minutes of the win over the Heat, said he made an effort to get inside and was effective with several driving layups.
“I was going to play tonight,” Teague said. “The last game I didn’t come out with a lot of energy. I didn’t do anything. I wasn’t aggressive. I wasn’t myself. Tonight I was going to make an effort to go out there and be aggressive, be in attack mode, and go out the way I wanted to go out.”
The Magic (11-32) have lost 12 of the past 13 games. Oladipo had 24 points and Tobias Harris added 19 points.
The Magic opened the fourth quarter with an 18-4 run to completely erase what was a 19-point deficit. They got their first lead of the game with 7:55 remaining on a Kyle O’Quinn dunk. That was followed by a Maurice Harkless three-point play and an O’Quinn tip and the Magic led by six, 98-92.
Millsap needed to speak up again.
“We have to remember that we are an NBA team and not an AAU team,” Korver said. “That is really what it boils down to. When we run sets and we execute, we can be really good and score a lot of points. We can be an efficient team. But when we get away from that we have stretches, especially on the road, where we don’t execute. We just come down and try to go one-on-one and try to force something up. As long as we keep on fighting that urge to do that, as long as we do, we’ve shown we can score a lot of points.”
The Hawks jumped out to the19-point lead, 82-63, in the third quarter with a 22-6 run. They hit five 3-pointers during the run – two each by Teague and Carroll and one by Korver. The Magic answered with a 17-6 run to end the period with the Hawks up 88-80.
The Hawks led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter and took a 60-56 lead into halftime. The Magic closed the first half with a 13-6 run to pull within four points at the break.
The Hawks took advantage of the absence of Magic center Nikola Vucevic, out with a concussion. They held advantages in rebounds (23-14) and points in the paint (36-24) through two quarters. In the first half alone, Teague converted four driving layups and two free throws after being fouled on another attempt.
Carroll was injured his left hamstring in the second quarter and went to the locker room early for treatment. He started the second half but came out for good in the third quarter with what the team described as hamstring irritation. Carroll said following the game that he did not expect to miss any time.