Magic Falter in Second Half in Loss to Hawks

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Against a deep, talented team like the Atlanta Hawks, trading baskets will likely not result in a favorable outcome. That’s precisely what the Orlando Magic learned Monday, as they let their guard down defensively in a 129-111 loss despite having one of their better offensive performances of the season.

Top Performers

For the eighth time this season, Cole Anthony eclipsed the 20-point mark, going for 29 in Atlanta. The 6-foot-3 guard, who leads the team in scoring, shot 11-for-19 from the field and 4-for-8 from 3-point range. Perhaps even more impressive was that he dished out a career-high 11 assists. Franz Wagner came on strong in the second half to finish with 19 points, while an aggressive Terrence Ross also poured in 19.

Key Stats

Protecting the paint has generally been a Magic strength this season. They ranked fifth in opponent scoring in the paint entering Monday’s NBA action. But in Atlanta, the Magic struggled to keep Trae Young out of the lane on drives and Atlanta’s bigs from using their size and agility around the basket. The Hawks accumulated 54 points in the paint and they took 32 free throws, although some of them came during a hack-a-Clint Capela tactic late in the fourth quarter.

Interesting Fact

Over his last two games, Wendell Carter Jr. is 7-of-9 from 3-point range. In the 22 games he appeared in last season with the Magic following the trade from the Bulls, he made seven threes total. One of the league’s most improved players, Carter has drilled 25 threes so far this year, just two shy of his total from his first three NBA seasons combined.

Injury Report

Out for Orlando were Jalen Suggs (sprained right ankle), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee) and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain). Unavailable for Atlanta were De’Andre Hunter (right wrist surgery) and Onyeka Okongwu (right should surgery recovery).

Rivals Report

The Hawks shocked everyone in the playoffs last season by reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. With that success came some elevated expectations this year. So far – and the schedule has been a factor – Atlanta hasn’t come out guns blazing. Before their wins over the Bucks and Magic, the Hawks had lost six straight and eight of nine. Each of their opponents during that stretch, however, have winning records. Depth was a strength of theirs last season. That’s going to have to be the case again for them to make another deep run in the postseason.

Quote of the Night

“I don’t think we were physical enough. We let Clint Capela and John Collins kind of punk us. They just outworked us on the boards. And that’s on me. I got to get in there and rebound more. Three rebounds (Anthony’s total) is unacceptable….I take a lot of responsibility for that.” – Anthony

This Day in History

On Nov. 15, 1990, Nick Anderson, then just in his second season in the NBA, scored 23 points, Jerry Reynolds poured in 22 off the bench and Sam Vincent finished with 21 as the Magic outlasted the Jazz in an overtime thriller. Karl Malone led Utah with 34 points, while John Stockton dished out 13 assists. Twice in history, the Magic and Jazz have gone to overtime. Orlando prevailed in both of those contests.

Up Next

The Magic now make their way up to New York City, where in the first of two games in the Big Apple they will square off against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. This will be the third of four meetings this season between the two teams. They split the first two, winning in each other’s building. On Oct. 22 at Amway Center, seven Knicks scored in double figures in their lopsided victory. Then two nights later at MSG, Anthony recorded 29 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists and Ross scored all 22 of his points in the fourth quarter to lead the Magic to the win. Orlando’s other game in New York on this trip will be against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.

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