Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu arrived in Atlanta to inject some life into the offense. No one would expect Orlando to come rolling in against a pretty good Atlanta team and turn things around.
Let’s face it, the Magic still have a lot of work to do.
Orlando shot 35.2 percent from the floor and did not get a field goal in the fourth quarter until four minutes in. In fact Orlando went a stretch of over 12 minutes without a field goal as the team fell to division rival Atlanta 91-81.
Again, some hiccups were expected. But the Magic just looked completely out of sync tonight and, except for a few brief stretches, unprepared to face a team of this caliber. Atlanta was able to execute better for most of the night and just looked like they would be able to outlast an unsure Orlando team.
There were moments of brilliance, for sure, on both ends of the floor. Orlando erased an 11-point second-quarter lead and tied the game at 55 in the third quarter. But from there Atlanta took control. The Hawks held as big as an 18-point lead and hit big shot after big shot — many of them well-defended — and the Magic did not have enough cohesiveness to make the comeback.
Stan Van Gundy said he was not upset because of all the new guys in the lineup, but there was not a lot of good to take out of the game. You cannot fault the Magic’s effort in this one, just very little went right.
Atlanta outworked Orlando on the boards, using 13 offensive rebounds to help the team expand its lead. The Hawks versatility, for a change, really gave the Magic issues. Al Horford scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, abusing Malik Allen whenever they were matched up and pulling Dwight Howard away from the rim when they were matched up. Josh Smith gave Hedo Turkoglu problems and Joe Johnson did too, especially in the first half. Johnson scored 17 points to help pace Atlanta.
Like Van Gundy said, nothing much went right tonight.
These guys just did not have enough time to play together and get on the same page. All the new players did not have the best of games.
Arenas hit his first 3-pointer and finished with 10 points off the bench, but shot only 2 for 11. Turkoglu did not look like the attacking Turkoglu of old, but the wild-shooting Turkoglu of old in scoring eight points on 1-for-4 shooting. Richardson scored nine points on 3-for-8 shooting.
It was clear the three have the potential to do a lot on this team, but right now they simply are not ready. Arenas had moments where he attacked the basket hard, and so did Richardson. But tonight, they were thinking a little too much and it hurt the whole team offensively. No one was really comfortable enough it seemed to attack. And the offense stagnated.
It was another game of Dwight Howard and no one else. Howard scored 19 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. He looked energized at the defensive end, especially early. But the energy slowly waned as shots just refused to fall. Howard made only six of his 14 shots, making this the first time he shot below 50 percent in consecutive games since Jan. 2 (at Chicago) and Jan. 5 (vs. Indiana). It caused Matt Guokas to call out Howard in FSN’s post game show for not making sure he kept his teammates involved offensively and being a little too focused on his own scoring.
This team will be a work in progress. No one could expect this team to be clicking on all cylinders. But I think we expected something better than this. No one looked really sure of themselves (somewhat expectedly) and the aggression was lacking. Defensively, things worked occasionally and the effort was there. This team does not have the details down quite yet.