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ATLANTA — Al Horford needed most of the first half before he felt energy in his legs.
Such is life in the NBA when you’re recovering from the flu and returning from a four-game Western trip, but Horford and the Atlanta Hawks got the lift they needed in the third quarter.
“I thought it was just me, but I was asking the guys and they were tired, too,” Horford said. “And (Orlando) played a back-to-back game, and I think that made it uglier. Tell you what, I’ll take the win.”
Horford scored 15 points and Lou Williams added 14 to lead the Hawks past the Magic 82-72 on Monday night.
Zaza Pachulia pulled down 10 rebounds in a reserve role for Atlanta, which has won two straight and three of four.
“We didn’t have our legs early,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “I saw it early. I saw guys really gasping for air the first four minutes of the game.”
Glen Davis was the only player to score in double figures with 11 points for the Magic, who have lost two straight and seven of eight.
Orlando seemed to have given itself a break by ending the first quarter with a rare lead. The Magic had trailed after the first 12 minutes in seven of their first nine games, but they were outscored 24-12 in the third and were down 14 entering the fourth.
Following a fastbreak layup by Arron Afflalo that cut the lead to three early in the third, Atlanta went on an 11-0 run over a 2:03 span ending with Kyle Korver’s 3-pointer for a 59-45 lead.
The Magic were dealing with illnesses, too.
Playing on the road for the second straight night, the starting backcourt of Jameer Nelson (cough) and J.J. Redick (flu), Orlando never recovered from its listless third quarter.
“I appreciate their efforts,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “They tried to play for their teammates.”
Early in the fourth, Ivan Johnson drew a foul from Redick on a runner in the lane and converted the three-point play to make it 72-50.
“I felt about as well as I played,” Redick said. “I felt like I did more harm than good. I just didn’t have it.”
Orlando’s never led again after Nelson’s layup made it 37-35 with 3:50 left in the second.
Josh Smith, Atlanta’s leading scorer following Joe Johnson’s offseason trade to Brooklyn, ended the first half 0 for 5 from the field and 0 for 2 on free throw attempts before finishing the game with a season-low six points.
At least in the third, however, Smith and his teammates were playing a more complete game offensively, not just shooting jumpers.
“Whatever we did, we wanted to be aggressive doing it,” Smith said. “We were able to be aggressive in that third quarter, especially taking the ball to the hole. Driving and kicking, finding the open people. Kyle got some open 3s. Whenever we picked it up on the offensive end, the defensive end took care of itself.”
Atlanta, which won its seventh straight game against the Magic and fifth straight at Philips Arena, got a boost in the third after Drew told Jeff Teague and Devin Harris to push the ball harder up the floor and get their teammates running.
“We had a hard time getting our legs together,” Williams said. “In the second half, we did a better job of competing. It was just exciting to get a win, especially in a kind of game like that.”
Nelson, E’Twaun Moore, Josh McRoberts and Maurice Harkless each scored eight points, and Nikola Vucevic had 13 rebounds for the Magic.
Orlando’s 19 turnovers led to 24 points for the Hawks.
Johnson and Teague had nine points apiece, while Harris, who started for the first time since the season-opening home loss to Houston, and Pachulia each scored eight for Atlanta.
“We just had to get our energy flowing,” Smith said. “It took longer than expected, but a win’s a win.”