Denton: Magic Hoping to Win Two Straight Before Break

By John Denton
February 13, 2013

ORLANDO – For veteran point guard Jameer Nelson, it’s all a matter of perspective as it relates to the success that the Orlando Magic had Sunday night when they toppled Portland to end a 12-game skid.

``We’re on a winning streak right now, that’s all I know,’’ Nelson said with a laugh. ``We’re on a one-game winning streak and we’re trying to make it two. We’re taking it one game at a time and hopefully string some (wins) together.’’

To push their winning streak to two tonight at the Amway Center, the Magic (15-36) will have their work cut out for them considering the fits that the opposing Atlanta Hawks (28-22) have given them the past two-plus years.

The Hawks have beaten the Magic eight straight times, including twice this season. The Magic lost 81-72 in Atlanta on Dec. 19 and 86-80 in Orlando on Dec. 12. They haven’t beaten Atlanta in a regular-season game since Nov. 8, 2010.

To push their winning streak to two games, the Magic will have to find a way to end their losing streak against the Hawks.

``I think just over the years their personnel is pretty tough, rugged guys with athleticism, and that hasn’t changed, whether it’s (Al) Horford, (Zaza) Pachulia, Josh Smith and now DeShawn Stevenson or with the athleticism of their guards across the board.’’

Added Nelson: ``(The Hawks) score off transition buckets and then they slow the game down (with their defense). It’s kind of weird because they play at their own pace. And they have been doing that for years.’’

The Magic had arguably their best offensive game of the season on Sunday in the 110-104 whipping of the Trail Blazers. Orlando shot 52 percent from the floor, had 34 assists and placed six players in double figures. Nelson had a career-best 15 assists, reserve center Gustavo Ayon poured in a career-best 16 points and center Nikola Vucevic chipped in a game-high 19 rebounds.

The Magic will need to continue that kind of offensive efficiency and production against a Hawks team that has made it difficult for them to score. Throughout their eight-game winning streak against Orlando, the Hawks have held the Magic to 87 points or fewer each time. Miscues with the ball and poor shooting were culprits for the Magic in the two losses to the Hawks this season.

``The first two games we didn’t take care of the basketball and that was a reoccurring theme early in the season offensively for us,’’ Magic guard J.J. Redick said. ``Not saying that we won’t have a game where we have high turnovers again, but we seem to have cleaned that problem up a little bit. So tonight if we do a better job of that we can score the ball better.’’

Orlando started the season off with two impressive home victories against the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns. Redick said he can think of no better way to end the first half of the season prior to the four-day break for the all-star game with two more home wins against Portland and Atlanta.

``If we win tonight it would be a good feeling going into the break with a good feeling,’’ Redick said. ``Then, having an overall good vibe coming back, that would be really nice.’’

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