A Cold Night in Atlanta – Magic fall to Hawks
The Orlando Magic fell to the Atlanta Hawks by a score of 97-88 Saturday night. The Magic were without the services of point guard Jameer Nelson, who suffered a sprained ankle in last night’s win over the Wizards. Orlando did welcome back center Nik Vucevic for the first time in five games, and Nik responded with his customary double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds. Vucevic looked out of step early in the game, but finished well, hopefully putting any concussion problems behind him.
Beno Udrih led the Magic in scoring with 20 points filling in for Jameer at the point. Tobias Harris contributed a double-double of his own with 11 points and 10 boards, but it took a 5-18 shooting night to get there. Tobias was frustrated most of the night battling with Josh Smith on both ends of the floor.
Smith finished the night with 21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Ivan Johnson led Atlanta in scoring with a career high 21 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hawks were without many key players tonight including Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia, both of whom usually hurt the Magic with their scoring and toughness. Going into this game, Orlando hadn’t beaten Atlanta since the 2011 playoffs, when the Magic managed to win one game before being eliminated by the Hawks. The Magic played well in the first half. DeQuan Jones, getting the start in his hometown, provided a spark in the first quarter netting 7 points. Orlando went inside with ease, exploiting the absence of Horford and Pachulia, and only trailed by one at halftime.
Orlando started the second half cold, and it would be too much for them to overcome on the second night of a back to back.
Free throw shooting was an issue tonight. Orlando managed to only shoot 59% from the charity stripe, going 16-27. The basket didn’t just discriminate on free throws, it didn’t let many shots in for the Magic. A paltry 39% from the field and 4-13 from beyond the arc wasn’t going to be good enough to beat the Hawks tonight, no matter who was healthy for them. The Magic kept fighting though, even getting it to within seven points with under two minutes left. A frustrated Tobias Harris got a technical late in the game arguing a non-called foul. As Matt Goukas said on the telecast tonight, Josh Smith can be a great defender when he’s motivated to be, and clearly Tobias didn’t have it as easily as he has the last few games.
When the night began, this game was clearly a winnable game for the Magic, considering who was hurt for the Hawks. It wasn’t for lack of effort tonight. Whether it was tired legs or playing a good defensive team, the Magic found the going a little tougher tonight. This team can learn from tonight and continue to improve. The next games against the Rockets and Spurs will really test them, and I’m especially excited to see how Tobias performs on this road trip against stiff competition. As one of our leaders going forward, the coaching staff needs to see how he will respond to having a bad game.
The next game for the Magic is Monday night in Houston against the Rockets. Tip is set for 8pm
Matt Jensen is new to the MBO team and a proud contributing writer. He operates as MBO’s Sr. Sioux Falls Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter here