By John Denton
February 13, 2013

ORLANDO -- Just days after playing one of their best games of the season and lending to hope that they would finish the first half on a positive note, the Orlando Magic instead took a step backward on Wednesday and continued to struggle against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Magic got outhustled and outmuscled early in the game when they fell into a 25-point hole and then saw things only get worse in the second half of a disappointing 108-76 loss to the Hawks at the Amway Center.

``It was a little bit of both, actually a lot of both,’’ said Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, referring to his team’s lack of focus and intensity. ``We started off the game pretty good and they turned it up. We couldn’t get a rebound for a while there or get a stop. We didn’t get good shots on the other end. And they just outplayed us in every aspect of the game.’’

Cracked a peeved J.J. Redick, who had eight points in 18 minutes: ``We were down, definitely down. Nothing more to say. We got punked.’’

Orlando (15-37) lost to Atlanta (29-22) for a third time this season and a ninth time in a row over the past three seasons. Additionally, scoring against the Hawks’ rugged frontline was once again a chore for a Magic team that has failed to break 87 points in any of the past nine games against Atlanta. Wednesday’s result was the third-worst loss in the history of the series between the Magic and Hawks.

``They’re a good team and a tough matchup for a lot of teams,’’ Nelson said. ``They execute well offensively and defensively they are pretty good. And they’ve been like that the last few years.’’

The Magic got overwhelmed in the second quarter when they were outscored 32-17. And things got so bad at one point in the second half that Atlanta’s Al Horford and Josh Smith (40 points together) combined for more points than Orlando (38 points).

Those two players had the same amount of points after three quarters (56 points) as the Magic did (56 points). Smith finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, while Horford had 26 points and 12 boards.

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