Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hawks Swoop into Orlando and Nab Victory

For the second consecutive game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Magic shot about thirty-eight percent on field goals. That’s just asking for trouble. So are 16 turnovers. Orlando would lose 86-80 to an Atlanta team that just knows how to make the Magic struggle with scoring. Coach Jacque Vaughn’s crew now owns an 8-13 record. On the bright side, Orlando went 11-for-11 from the free throw stripe. On a negative, Amway Center's official attendance was just 16,992. That's the lowest ever for a Magic regular season game since the building opened its doors. Here are mypostgame player locker room videos. The frustration with being 4-6 at Amway Center now is growing. These veterans know they can do better, but Atlanta's stiff defense forces Orlando into being a bad perimeter squad. 

Arron Afflalo on another slow start: "We can't afford to sleepwalk into the games. That falls a lot on the guys who start the game more so than anybody."

Arron Afflalo led his team in points with sixteen. Jameer Nelson posted an efficient 12 points, while JJ Redick poured in 13 points off the pine. Glen Davis was a nightmare 2-for-11 of the field but still finished with 11 points and 7 boards. Also of note, Andrew Nicholson’s 8 points and 7 rebounds off the bench. With DeShawn Stevenson unavailable, Hawks Coach Larry Drew turned to Anthony Morrow at starting small forward. It was the former Net’s first start in an Atlanta jersey. The Hawks had little problems with their efficient 8-man rotation.

Arron Afflalo's vow for Golden State on Friday: "Next game we will play with more focus and passion in the first quarter."

Heads up, the Magic had another terrible start to a contest. The home side didn’t score a point for the first 4 minutes and forty-five seconds. Orlando trailed 16-2 at the 6:03 mark before Jacque Vaughn finally called a timeout. Then the bench brigade came in and had a major hand in Orlando’s 13-3 run as it was nice to witness some crisp ball movement. After the brutal beginning, the Magic only trailed 20-15 after one quarter of play despite 33.3% field goal shooting.

Hawks Coach Larry Drew on the Magic: "This team is a team that I believe in the future they're going to be something to beat. You're going to have to really pay particular attention to."

The Magic utilized a 10-2 run to nab a 27-26 advantage midway through the second period. Behind a 9-0 Atlanta barrage though, the Hawks would command a 46-34 lead at halftime. Orlando shot a vomit-inducing 34.1 FG% those initial 24 minutes. The suffocating Hawks defense is legitimate. You don’t lose 7 straight to Atlanta, managing only about 79 points in each of those gruesome defense, and not give credit to that stifling ATL defense. Talk about a roller coaster affair. After Atlanta led by as many as 19 points, Orlando would go on an 11-2 run to get within single digits. Atlanta once more led by a dozen going into the final period, 72-60. I’m still horrified to have witnessed Zaza Pachulia drill a ¾ court heave just after the buzzer.

JJ Redick on the team's mistakes: "We are what we are right now...we're a high turnover team."

Zaza clearly gained some courage from that ridiculous prayer shot because the former Magic big man would be an offensive handful for Glen and Vucevic early on in the fourth period. Not kidding. Thanks to a few timely 3s and some overall decent ball stopping allowed to Magic to only be behind 82-72 with 5:23 remaining. But all of this coming from behind eventually wore out the starters and they ran out of gas down the stretch. Atlanta has now won 8 straight regular season contests against Orlando. We’ve been long begging for this pain and angst to end. Not yet, Orlando, not yet. The Magic seek to recover on Friday as they will host the Golden State Warriors. Tip-off has been moved back to 7 p.m. EST instead of 8 p.m. because ESPN dropped this game from being shown on national television. Keep an eye on Maurice Harkless' minutes. I expect a fair chunk of them to be dispersed more to DeQuan Jones and Josh McRoberts who have been riding the pine plenty of late.  

Jameer Nelson on frustrating losses like tonight: "I can't figure it out by myself, not any one person here. We have to figure it out together."

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