Orlando Magic Grades: Atlanta Hawks 112, Orlando Magic 96

Chuma Okeke and the Orlando Magic struggled to break through the Atlanta Hawks' interior defense. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Chuma Okeke and the Orlando Magic struggled to break through the Atlanta Hawks' interior defense. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

125. Final. 96. 38. 112

Give the Orlando Magic their credit for scrapping. They whittled a 17-point deficit in the second quarter back down to six midway through the third. Their defense stuck to shooters and, after giving up offensive rebounds over and over again in the first half, they locked down the glass effectively.

The Magic are not going to be a quiet out. But the difference between a win and a loss these days for the Magic is quite simply their ability to hit shots from the outside.

Orlando is not a good 3-point shooting team, that much is clear. And with several chances to cut into the six-point deficit, the team could not find the shots it needed. And the moment and window for the Magic to sneak through and steal a win from one of the hottest teams in the league.

Atlanta quickly extended the lead back out to 17. They got back on the offensive glass against the Magic and rode Trae Young, Lou Williams and John Collins to what felt like an easy victory in a 112-96 win at State Farm Arena on Tuesday.

The Orlando Magic fell behind early and struggled to climb all the way back as their offense and shooting would not cooperate again in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks stormed past the Magic in the fourth quarter on the strength of their rebounding and their ability to get to the line. Orlando was just constantly playing catch up and did not have the firepower to do so.

The Magic ended the game shooting just 39.5-percent from the floor and 8 for 37 from beyond the arc. It is just nearly impossible to keep up with a high-powered offensive team like the Hawks with those numbers.

Especially when the defense is not perfect.

Atlanta grabbed 18 offensive rebounds. And while that resulted in only 14 second-chance points, each missed opportunity was a killer as the Magic struggled to get any rhythm.

Orlando played well in a whole lot of other areas and for long enough stretches. The team forced 14 turnovers and turned them into 22 points. That especially helped the Magic stake a solid lead in the first quarter. And the team’s starters largely took care of the team’s business.

But the good vibes would not last. The bench could not sustain much offensive force and the team started fouling and giving up second-chance points. The Magic just did not have the sharpness and precision to keep up for more than a few moments.

Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY. B+. . PG

You have to admire Cole Anthony‘s determination and fire. The guy wants to compete and is finding ways to compete and stay in the game even if the lead is getting away from the team. This is not a guy who is accepting these losses and there is a growing determination to get the team back on the right foot. That competitiveness is going to come in handy for him.

He finished the game with 17 points and eight assists, making six of his 15 shots. He did a good job attacking the basket especially and he is finishing there with a ton of efficiency. He largely did a good job staying down and with Trae Young. He got caught behind and on Young’s hip a few times. But Anthony’s competitiveness is standing out most of anything on the team right now.

B. . C. Orlando Magic. WENDELL CARTER

Wendell Carter can make a lot of people notice him very quickly. In the best play of the night, Carter stole the ball and went the length of the floor for a dunk where he jumped from outside the paint. It was an impressive play that displayed his versatility. He showed that off a lot in scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds while shooting 6 for 8 from the floor.

Carter again though disappeared for long stretches of the game. His shooting only eight shots is still a concerning sign and the Magic went away from him and his ability to get going again. He also struggled to contain Clint Capela for much of the night. While Carter’s rebounding has been a lot better of late, it is still lacking for a team that struggles on the glass. the Magic were committing more to the glass in this one to counteract.

. F. Orlando Magic. CHUMA OKEKE. C+

Chuma Okeke is still everything he was a few weeks ago. He set up a few post-ups and did a good job moving away from pressure to hit his fadeaway jumper. The Orlando Magic are still doing a good job finding space for Okeke to operate to get him shot attempts and reps. He is still getting plenty of open shots too.

But Okeke has hit the rookie wall it seems. He is struggling to convert on these opportunities. He scored six points on 3-for-10 shooting, missing all five of his 3-pointers. He needs to keep shooting in these situations, of course, but right now those shots are not going in. The Magic probably are not going to win again until Okeke gets going.

B-. . G. Orlando Magic. R.J. HAMPTON

The one thing we can say for sure is that R.J. Hampton is confident and not shy about shooting. He was willing to take shots off the dribble to get himself going on a bench unit that was devoid of all scoring. Someone has to be aggressive and Hampton is not afraid to be that aggressive player right now.

But like his fellow rookie in Chuma Okeke, R.J. Hampton is not delivering. And unlike Okeke, Hampton does not have the track record of delivering more consistently. Hampton scored eight points on 3-for-8 shooting. So there were still plenty of good things. And the confidence we are seeing from Hampton will serve him well as he continues to refine his shot. But Hampton still has to learn when his opportunities should arise and where they should come from. That is a tough balance for a young player to discover.

B. . 32-26. 4th East. ATLANTA HAWKS

For much of this game, it felt like the Atlanta Hawks were in cruise control. There were only a few moments where they looked to really dial things up and their bench took care of most of the work. Trae Young was just playing to pick his spot in scoring 25 points on 7-for-16 shooting. He added seven assists. The Magic’s starters played relatively even with Young and company (Young was +7 for the game).

The real star was Clint Capela and his work on the glass, grabbing 19 rebounds including six offensive rebounds. And then Lou Williams off the bench — 22 points on 6-for-14 shooting. The Hawks hit enough shots from beyond the arc but were by no means deadly from deep with only 9 of 34 shots going in. This game just came down to the magic’s inability to create offensive force.

dark. Next. Orlando Magic's offense still comes down to pace

The Magic fall to 18-40, 14th in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Chicago Bulls by 6.5 games for the final spot in the Play-In Tournament.

Orlando has been eliminated from receiving the fourth and fifth seeds in the Playoffs. They are one Boston Celtics win or one Orlando Magic loss away from being eliminated from the sixth seed. The Magic are nine Bulls wins or nine Magic losses from being eliminated from the Play-In Tournament.

The Orlando Magic are tied with the Detroit Pistons for the third-best odds to win the Lottery. They are 11 wins or 11 Houston Rockets or Minnesota Timberwolves losses from earning the best odds to win the Lottery.

The Orlando Magic return to action Thursday at the Amway Center against the New Orleans Pelicans.