By John Denton
December 12, 2012
Afflalo led the Magic with 16 points, but made just six of 16 shots. J.J Redick and E’Twaun Moore had 13 and 11 points off the bench. Jameer Nelson chipped in 12 points, while Davis (10 points, seven rebounds and four steals) struggled through a two of 11 shooting night.
``As a captain I take situations like this (with slow starts) to get us going,’’ Davis said of the slow starts. ``I wasn’t here today. Point blank, I didn’t show up today. I’m upset I’m not playing the way that I need to play. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Yeah, I can’t be perfect. … You’re not going to have good game all of the time, but you have to do other things to help the team win. I tried my best, but I didn’t do the necessary things to help us win the game.’’
Josh Smith had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots. Al Horford added 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Jeff Teague chipped in 16 points and two 3-pointers. In Atlanta’s eight-game winning streak against the Magic, Orlando is averaging just 79.4 points during that stretch while shooting less than 39 percent from the floor.
Orlando trailed 46-34 at the half, and that was quite an accomplishment considering the poor start that it got off to. After trailing by as much as 14 points in the first six minutes, Orlando actually stormed into the lead at 27-26 on a 3-pointer in transition by Redick.
But another poor stretch filled with turnovers and one-pass possessions allowed the Hawks to push the lead back to 12 points by halftime. Much like when they lost to Atlanta in November, the Magic’s turnovers became points for Atlanta early in the game. Orlando’s eight turnovers led to 13 points in the first half for the Hawks.
``We didn’t score at the beginning of the game and our bad offense led to their good offense,’’ Redick said. ``It was another game where we defended well in the half-court, but when we turned the ball over we gave them opportunities and made it easy on them. We knew that coming in and it was something that we talked about. But we are what we are right now and that’s a high turnover team.’’
For a fifth straight game, the Magic got off to a dismal start and were forced to play out of a sizeable hole throughout much of the first half. Orlando missed eight of its first nine shots and trailed 16-2, which forced Vaughn to call a second timeout in the first six minutes.
Starting slowly has been a trend of late for Orlando. In the past five games, the Magic have faced first-quarter deficits of four points (vs. Lakers), six points (vs. Warriors), nine points (vs. Jazz), 11 points (vs. Kings), nine points (vs. Suns) and 14 points (vs. Hawks).
``The guys that start the game have to change the way that we play, which includes myself because I’m not alienating anybody,’’ Afflalo said. ``The way we start the game has to be with a lot more energy. One of us, next game, will take it upon ourselves to make sure that it happens. I can’t predict the score or making shots, but we will play with more focus and passion on the first quarter.’’
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said he will examine making changes in the starting lineup in order to help the team get off to better starts. Rookie Maurice Harkless made his 11th straight start on Wednesday but he missed all four of his shots and grabbed just one rebound in 11 minutes.
``You have to expend a lot of energy to put yourself back in the game,’’ Vaughn said. ``We will keep looking at it as a coaching staff and will see what is best moving forward. … The best thing is to let this game subside and think smartly, watch the film and continue to diagnose what some of the problems are. Also, it’s (important) to never rush, but be patient and come to a conclusion.’’
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