AP Photo/John Raoux
Heading into Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic were earning plaudits for going 3-2 on their West Coast road trip (which included impressive wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors).
Unfortunately for the Magic, they were unable to keep the good vibes going against the Hawks, as Atlanta came into town and A-Town stomped Orlando. Don’t let the final score fool you. The game was not as closed as it seemed. The Hawks jumped out to a 16-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
The Magic fell behind early because they were unable to get anything going offensively. Orlando is one of the worst offensive teams in the league, ranking 29th in Offensive Rating (only the Washington Wizards are worse), so it should come as no surprise that they hit a cold spell on offense. And it was mostly because the Magic settled for jumpers.
On the flipside, Atlanta didn’t do anything special against Orlando. The Hawks simply played good defense and displayed competence offensively.
Eventually, the Magic were able to get back into the game thanks to scoring runs of 9-2 and 10-2, which began in the latter stages of the first quarter and spanned up to the middle of the second quarter. Orlando even took the lead at 27-26 with 6:35 left in the period.
But Atlanta responded with runs of 6-0 and 9-0, pushing their lead back to double digits heading into halftime. After trading baskets to start the third quarter, the Hawks went on a quick 6-0 run and opened up a 17-point lead to blow the game wide open, which prompted head coach Jacque Vaughn to sub out the starting lineup en masse. The deficit ballooned to 19 points shortly thereafter for the Magic.
From there, Atlanta cruised to an easy victory over Orlando.
Again, the Hawks didn’t do anything special. Al Horford and Josh Smith had double-doubles for Atlanta, but they weren’t overwhelmingly dominant on both ends of the floor. Jeff Teague had a nice game, even though it seemed like he was sleepwalking through most of it.
This was a winnable game for the Magic. The problem was that Orlando got off to a slow start in the first quarter and were unable to dig themselves out of a hole. This is not the first time this has happened to the Magic and it won’t be the last. Can Orlando buck that trend sooner or later? It remains to be seen.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Al Horford helped lead the way for the Hawks, finishing with his seventh-consecutive double-double of the season (13 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists). Horford’s play of the game was his posterization of Nikola Vucevic in the second quarter.
Josh Smith also finished with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks) for Atlanta, but it was his defense that stood out the most. Smith did an excellent job of blocking and altering shots at the rim.
That Was … Easy
The Hawks jumped out to a 16-2 lead to start the game and were on cruise control the rest of the way. The Magic tried to make a game of it near the end, but their efforts were thwarted.