By John Denton
December 12, 2012
ORLANDO – Hoping to use the momentum from an impressive 3-2 West Coast road trip Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic instead looked like were still stuck in another time zone much of the night.
The Magic were sluggish in the beginning, sloppy in the middle and a step slow in the fourth quarter in losing 86-80 to the vastly improved Hawks. Strangely, it is Orlando’s second loss of the season to Atlanta and the eighth in a row in regular-season play over the last three years.
Orlando (8-13) fell into a 14-point hole in the game’s first six minutes, charged back into the lead briefly and fell apart just before halftime with a flurry of turnovers. Once down as much as 19 points, the Magic made a charge to within six points of the lead in the fourth quarter but could put enough stops and scores together down the stretch.
``I thought on the road we played more spirited basketball, but at home maybe there’s something with our routine that us as players have to fix so that we have the proper energy,’’ Magic guard Arron Afflalo said. ``You have to compete to get energy in the building and to get your juices flowing. We cannot afford to sleepwalk into the game.’’
The Magic were hoping to build off a road trip in which they defeated the Lakers, Warriors and Suns last week while out West. But Orlando never led after the midpoint of the second quarter against an Atlanta team that has been one of the NBA’s most surprising teams so far.
Orlando shot just 38.3 percent, and even though it came in focused on protecting the ball, it had 16 turnovers. Those miscues resulted in 24 points for the opportunistic Hawks (13-6). Three of the turnovers came just before the half when Atlanta turned a four-point game into a 12-point spread at the break.
``We made it too easy for them out there,’’ Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis said. ``We basically gave them the game. You look at the score – two minutes to go and we’re down six; two minutes go before the half and we’re down four; so we gave them the game. We’re a better team than that. We’ve gotten way better and we’ve got to prove it and keep playing.’’
Added Afflalo: ``Honestly, I don’t think they felt discomfort at all in the game. It was as if they knew they were going to walk in here and win. We can’t discredit them for having that attitude, but the next game will be different with the way we play.’’
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