Magic Fall to Hawks, Lose Fifth Straight Game

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

The Milwaukee Bucks earlier this week, the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday and the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday and Sunday, this young and developing Orlando Magic squad are getting an up-close end-of-season look at what being at the top of the Eastern Conference looks like and where they hope to be in the future. The Hawks, a team that was in the infantile stages of their rebuild just a couple years ago, showed the Magic that significant progress can be made in a relatively short period of time as they remained in fourth place in the East by steamrolling Orlando 116-93.

Rookie Watch

Cole Anthony scored 12 points, his fourth straight game in double figures, and filled up the rest of the box score with seven rebounds, six assists and one steal. It was the eighth time this season the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder had 10-plus points, five-plus rebounds and five-plus assists. Fellow rookie R.J. Hampton also stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Key Stretch

Atlanta went into the locker room at halftime with a 20-point lead after closing the second quarter on a 14-6 run. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored seven of his 27 points in the final three minutes of the first half, while Trae Young had four of his 18.

Key Stat

The Hawks this season have been one of the best at getting to the free throw line. The Magic, meanwhile, have been one of the best at preventing opponents from getting to the stripe. Something had to give, and on this night it was Atlanta that capitalized on its strength as it took 24 free throws, which is its season average.

Injury Report

Mo Bamba (non-COVID illness), Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left ankle), James Ennis III (sore right calf), Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation), Chuma Okeke (sprained left ankle), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain), and Terrence Ross (back spasms) were out for the Magic.

The Sidebar

On Wednesday, the Magic signed Ignas Brazdeikis for the remainder of the season. He originally signed a 10-day contract with Orlando on May 2. Since joining the Magic, he has scored in double figures three times, including on Thursday in Atlanta where he posted 12 points.

Quote of the Night

“I think the biggest thing, and I just talked to these guys in here (about it), is consistency and it’s execution. There’s not a lot of difference between say the better players in the G League and like the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth man on the roster. But the difference is, the guys that make the NBA you can execute with. And our level of execution tonight was not even close,” – Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford

Up Next

The Magic will wrap up their 2020-21 season with a pair of road games against the 76ers. The first meeting will take place on Friday at 8 p.m., while the second one is set for Sunday at 7 p.m. Philadelphia, led by MVP candidate Joel Embiid and Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner Ben Simmons, is clinging to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They are one game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets, whom they own the head-to-head tiebreaker over. Therefore, one more win for the Sixers or one more loss by the Nets would lock the top spot up for Philly.

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