By John Denton
February 27, 2013
ORLANDO – Having endured lots of upheaval at last week’s NBA trade deadline and six grueling games in the past nine nights, the Orlando Magic hit the wall physically and emotionally Wednesday night against the sleeker, more athletic Sacramento Kings.
Hoping to ride the momentum from a stirring victory in Philadelphia a night earlier, the Magic instead fell flat in a variety of ways in a head-scratcher of a 125-101 loss to the Kings at the Amway Center.
``They came out ready and they gave us that first punch real early and it was hard for us to regroup from that,’’ said Magic newcomer Tobias Harris, who scored 23 points.
The Magic (16-42) failed once again in their bid to win consecutive games, meaning they still haven’t captured two wins in a row since Dec. 19. Clearly, Sacramento (20-39), which lost Tuesday night in Miami in two overtimes, had more energy and efficiency than a Magic team at the end of a grueling stretch of games over the past nine nights.
Also, it was the first time in nine years that the Kings have swept the Magic in the regular season. They won 91-82 on Dec. 7 in Sacramento and were never threatened after the middle of the first quarter on Wednesday night.
``Six games in nine nights, that’s the NBA,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. ``We talked about in the locker room, now what do you do? How do you prepare yourself? (How do you handle) your off days, your approach, your treatment, your rest, what you’re eating – all of those things are important as do thing for the first time. There are a bunch of guys in that locker room who haven’t played six games in nine nights before. So this is new and the thing is to learn from it so that when it happens, the next time we’re better.’’
Up six in the first three minutes of the game and seemingly poised to play another good game, the Magic instead got steamrolled by a Kings team that pushed the pace and converted time and time again on fastbreak possessions. As a result, Orlando tied a season-high by giving up 67 first-half points, trailed by as much as 33 in the second half and equaled another high for points allowed in a game.
Five Kings reached double figures by halftime, and John Salmons and Marcus Thornton led them for the game with 21 and 20 points. Sacramento, which made 10 3-pointers, shot better than 60 percent for the first three quarters and finished at 54.8 percent, while the Magic connected on just 44.6 percent of their tries.
Follow John Denton on Twitter here