Monday, November 19, 2012

Hawks Feast Like Vultures on Magic Starters

You could smell the stench of decay on a few occasions Monday night. To horribly steal a line from a Southwest Airlines commercial, the Magic don't 'wanna get away?' from Orlando. Particularly when it involves back-to-back road games. See the disappointing Chicago-Minnesota trip as exhibit A, and now this deflating Toronto-Atlanta frustration as more evidence that Jacque Vaughn's Magic roster can't figure out how to succeed outside of Amway Center. The Magic lost 81-72 to fall to a record of 3-7. Orlando turned the ball over 19 times, the Hawks nabbed a ridiculous 12 steals. Glen Davis was the only black and white man in double figures with 11 points and 7 rebounds. The starting five as a whole only managed 32 points. Putrid. Maurice Harkless and Josh McRoberts each poured in 8 points off the bench. Respect to Nik Vucevic for fighting hard for 13 rebounds. At least these guys snagged that comeback victory in Detroit. Seriously though, the Hawks were for the taking just like the Raptors on Sunday. Neither team shot well. Careless turnovers was the main difference. But now back to the present reality, and it's looking bleaker and ever so discouraging. Atlanta has now won the past 7 matchups with Orlando. It's amazing how laughable the Hawks used to be just a few years ago. Remember when we were sweeping Atlanta out of the postseason? The tables have long turned.  

Coach Vaughn on another rough offensive showing: "Basketball is complicated if you make it complicated. First guy that's open, pass it to him. Doesn't matter who it is. Get movement, keep it simple."

Orlando led 23-21 after one period in the literally half-empty Philips Arena. Coach Vaughn hit the bench hard and often as eight different Magic men scored in those first 12 minutes. Sharing the wealth indeed. More shockingly, Josh McRoberts was the team's leading scorer with six points. Twelve Orlando players saw 1st quarter action as Jacque had to cope with JJ Redick and Jameer Nelson dealing with illnesses. He didn't have massive stats, but Nik Vucevic did a great job keeping Al Horford under control. The Magic trailed 41-37 at halftime as Vucevic and Nelson were the offensive focal points. The defense was superb for a change as Orlando was not afraid to get physical with Hawks bigs Ivan Johnson and Zaza Pachulia. The 12-5 turnover difference factored largely into why Atlanta had the advantage at halftime. Four assists from E'Twaun Moore is great. Four giveaways? Not so much. 

Coach Vaughn on Jameer and Redick playing through illness: "I appreciate their effort. They tried to play for their teammates, but I'd say they'd both agree that they weren't 100%."

The third period found the Magic struggling even more to score than in the first 24 minutes. Nelson and Redick couldn't physically move around as well as we've expected this season. It doesn't help when Kyle Korver and Josh Smith woke up after neither made a first half field goal to fuel an 11-0 Hawks run. Orlando was down 45-59 midway through the 3rd period and this squad just appeared very deflated. Settling for long jumpers when their bread and butter should be attacking the paint at full force. Can't go six minutes without making a field goal and expect to compete in games. The Hawks led 65-49 heading into the final period thanks to a 22-8 run. In a sense, the game was over. It truly was though with the fourth period being utilized as a large garbage time experiment. Again, this Orlando team has difficulty finding energy away from home. 

Coach Vaughn on coughing up the ball: "I think turnovers is something that can be taken care of fairly quickly."

I admire the Magic's third string going on a 12-0 run late to make the score look respectable, and scare the Hawks coaching staff into throwing their starters back onto the court late. God love his effort and heart, Kyle O'Quinn makes the case for more minutes. The Magic now have an absolutely crucial 5-game home stand during this Thanksgiving period that begins Wednesday versus the Pistons. The FOX Sports Florida turkey is on the line. Orlando has to go over .500 during the upcoming stretch if they want any potential playoff aspirations, because a 5-game road trip awaits afterwards. This Magic team's initial exuberance and confidence is falling faster than the temperature in the City Beautiful area. 

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