Retooled Magic fall in Atlanta
There were new names on some of Orlando’s shirts, but Atlanta’s Al Horford wasn’t convinced he was looking at a different Magic team.
Horford said the Magic still were relying on Dwight Howard’s inside power, and jump shots from the center’s supporting cast. Unfortunately for the Magic, most of those jumpers were not falling against the Hawks.
Horford scored 24 points and the Hawks rolled to a 91-81 victory over Howard and the cold-shooting Magic on Monday night.
Orlando, which hasn’t had time to practice since acquiring Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu on Saturday, struggled to find an offensive flow all night.
”They have the same kind of team,” Horford said. ”They’re shooters. They’re the same team but with different players.”
After setting a season low with 14 points in the first quarter, the Magic were held without a field goal for the first 8 minutes of the final period. The Hawks led by 17 when Richardson finally ended the drought with Orlando’s first basket with 4:04 remaining in the period.
Howard had 19 points and 20 rebounds, but too little help. Jameer Nelson scored 18 points but Arenas made only 2-of-11 shots for 10 points. Richardson had nine points and Turkoglu eight. Brandon Bass had 13.
”We’re starting from scratch,” said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. ”We would have all liked it to have been better but it wasn’t.
”Look, they’re out there trying hard, just none of them played well. Nobody could shoot the ball. … I’m sure they had a lot of emotions and stuff going on. It was a long night.”
Orlando has lost seven of eight.
”Once we get going we’ll be fine,” Howard said. ”It’s been a terrible month for us. We’ll pull out of it. Nobody’s hanging their heads.”
Atlanta also had a different look, a byproduct of coach Larry Drew’s lineup experiments when top scorer Joe Johnson missed nine games following elbow surgery.
Drew tried a big lineup with center Jason Collins starting when Johnson was out, and Drew went back to the look to give the Hawks a bigger body against Howard. Collins started for forward Marvin Williams, allowing Horford to move from center to power forward.
”The big key was we were able to play bigger,” Horford said. ”Jason did a great job, and it freed me up some.”
Johnson had 17 points, including 13 in the second half. Mike Bibby scored 15 points while hurting Orlando with three 3-pointers. Josh Smith had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Williams had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Horford grabbed 11 rebounds as Atlanta claimed a 51-38 advantage on the boards.
Arenas, playing as a reserve, sank a 3-pointer in the first period on his first shot with the Magic but couldn’t build off the strong start.
”For being together a couple hours, we did all right,” Arenas said.
Despite the loss, Arenas was still excited about his trade from Washington.
”Anywhere would have been a fresh start for me,” Arenas said. ”I lucked out coming here.”
Richardson, Turkoglu and Earl Clark were acquired from Phoenix. The Magic lost Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat, plus a 2011 first-round draft pick, in the two deals.
The Magic couldn’t even practice before the game. Plans for a morning shootaround were scrapped because the new players had to take physicals. All passed.
Van Gundy said he had no time to put in plays for the newcomers.
”We didn’t run much of anything,” Van Gundy said. ”I struggled rotation-wise and everything else. It was just very, very hard.”
Richardson and Turkoglu started. Clark did not play.
The Magic shot only 25 percent from the field in the first quarter and finished at 35.2 percent for the game.
The Hawks led by 11 in the third period. Orlando rallied to pull even at 55-all on Howard’s dunk, but the Magic couldn’t take the lead. Atlanta closed the period with a 10-3 run to lead 65-58 entering the final period.
Notes: Orlando F Malik Allen limped off the floor an apparent leg injury with 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He was taken to the locker room and Van Gundy said he had no update after the game. … Hawks G Jamal Crawford missed his fourth straight game with back spasms. … Howard blocked two shots by Smith in the first period. … The Hawks have won seven straight home games.