On an excessively cold night in Orlando, both the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks found difficulty getting on a shooting hot streak. The Hawks prevailed in the low scoring affair by a final of 80-74 in a game that saw the victors shoot 38.8 percent from the field while the hit for only 37.8 percent.
Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said he could find nothing positive on the stat sheet at the end of the game. The Magic (15-6) were put in an opening 14-5 hole and both teams played rather uninspired basketball the entire night.
“I really don’t know what to say about that one,” said Van Gundy. “On both sides, I thought it was a low energy game. It was just a bad basketball game.”
The main scapegoats for the Magic’s poor performance could be Rashard Lewis and Quentin Richardson, who shot a combined 3-15 from the field. Point guard Jameer Nelson also missed his third game in a row still battling the stomach flu.
“I don’t think we should be out of gas,” said Nelson’s replacement Chris Duhon. “These are big games. This is a division game for us. You can’t put any excuses about being tired. This is the NBA. We play all these games you have to learn how to play through it.”
Especially important in snapping the Magic’s five game home winning streak was the Hawks ability to pull away late. Three pointers from Mike Bibby at the 2:44 and 0:26 marks were critical buckets that kept the Magic at arm’s length. Bibby finished with 13 points off of 3-4 shooting from deep and Josh Smith led all scorers with his 19 points.
For the Magic, five players finished with double digit scoring, highlighted by Vince Carter’s 18. Dwight Howard was a late addition to the starting lineup after missing the last two games and went for 14 points and 13 rebounds. Van Gundy remarked that the ability to generate consistent post offense to Howard was a challenge all night.
He also said that despite the few solid individual performances, no one played well for the Magic. He also openly criticized his own coaching and specifically mentioned missing the play they ran for Bibby on his late makes from downtown.
“You just have those days,” said Duhon. “You play 82 games and you are not going to shoot the ball great. Our defense was able to keep us in the game. At the same, late in the stretch, we made key defensive errors and they were able to capitalize.”
Despite the poor offensive numbers for Atlanta, defensive questions remained for Orlando. They committed seven more turnovers and only out-rebounded the Hawks by three.
“The defensive numbers I think are because both teams played poorly,” said Van Gundy. “We had a few possessions defensively, but I was never thinking wow we are really getting after it defensively and getting some stops.”
The Magic will hit the road and start a four game West Coast road trip Thursday in Portland.