Once again the Orlando Magic were unable to close out a game where they held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. Once again the Magic looked out of sorts late in the game on both ends of the court.
Once again, this is another hard lesson learned and a missed opportunity in what could end up being a tight race. Another game thinking of what could have been for this young Magic team.
The Magic were seemingly riding high after rallying to take an 11-point lead with 8.5 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. They watched that lead collapse though and they really can only look at themselves as the reason why.
The Orlando Magic made several self-inflicted as their lead collapsed in the fourth quarter to the Atlanta Hawks in Mexico City. It continues a string of clutch struggles for this team.
The Orlando Magic proceeded to give up a 14-2 run to give up the lead to the Atlanta Hawks and make this a game down the stretch. The Magic and Hawks exchanged the lead several times during that run with Franz Wagner giving Orlando a two-point lead on a tough runner over Clint Capela with 42.8 seconds left.
But the Hawks had the last laugh. Trae Young drove the lane and attracted several defenders to him before finding Dejounte Murray in the corner for a wide-open three and the lead with 31.1 seconds left.
The Orlando Magic could not bail themselves out again like it did in the win over the Utah Jazz a week ago. The Magic worked the ball to Paolo Banchero for an open three but he missed it. Jonathan Isaac could not dig out the rebound and the Hawks ran out the clock for a 120-119 win in Mexico City.
A disappointing finish to a game the Magic seemed to have in their grasps and fought their way to get back after a poor and mistake-filled first half.
In the end, Orlando turned the ball over 18 times for 25 Atlanta points and missed 10 free throws, leaving 10 opportunities to flip this game in their favor in the end. These are all miscues that are completely in their control.
During Atlanta’s game-tightening 14-2 run, Orlando had three turnovers and just a barrage of missed shots, a frustratingly familiar pattern for this young team. In the fourth quarter, the Magic ended up with five turnovers. And perhaps as frustrating as the missed free throws, they took only one free throw in the final quarter.
Orlando’s formula for success is all about pressuring the rim and forcing their way to the line or kicking out for threes. That just did not happen. On top of this, the Magic committed nine fouls in the quarter giving up 10 free throws. The Hawks missed four of those (including one from Young) that left the door open.
The Magic just never could close it shut.
While Orlando showed positive signs throughout this game, the Magic fall to 4-4 on the season and are still searching for answers to close games.
They continue to struggle at the free-throw line missing 10 free throws shooting 25 for 35 (71.4-percent) from the free throw line overall. In a game where the Magic shot well from beyond the arc and from the field overall, Orlando has to make their free-throws.
The Magic also fall to 2-3 in close games and did not look composed on either end of the floor. That has been a consistent them even in the Orlando Magic’s two close victories against the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz earlier this year.
Orlando’s offense just goes into a shell when the game gets tight.
The Magic need to continue to run their offense in order to get whoever they want with the ball, especially with Franz Wagner still struggling. The isolations are clearly not working and have to take care of the ball throughout the game and late in games.
On the defensive end of the floor, Orlando needs to have awareness of the situation of the game.
In a game where Orlando leads by 2, the Magic can not afford to leave shooters open or commit silly fouls. Orlando ended up double teaming Trae Young and allowing Dejounte Murray to take a wide open three to effectively end the game.
The Magic in totality have to defend consistently especially when the offense is playing well.
The Magic had plenty of bright performances and fought hard to stay in the game. Jonathan Isaac earned a spot in the closing lineup as the Magic tried to defend their way to a victory. He finished the game as the team’s center and secured several big rebounds down the stretch. This was ultimately a good adjustment.
But Orlando could not find points in the end to put the game out of reach. They were trying to kill the clock instead of get to a score the Hawks could not reach. Atlanta has a good enough offense to break a good defense, especially one strained under the pressure of a team unable to score.
In the end, The Magic fall in another game the Magic should have won but still plenty of lessons to learn. The biggest one of all is to take care of their own business and not just hope to close the game out.