Magic offense stalls during loss
Orlando blows halftime lead, struggles persist against Hawks.
Magic coach Steve Clifford has tried to get his team to get going on the defensive end after struggling to lock down opponents.
The defense has shown signs of life lately, but it’s a different story on the offensive end.
The offense is in a rut and the struggles continued Monday night.
Facing the Atlanta Hawks — the team with the worst record in the NBA — without star guard Trae Young, the Magic shot 41.6% from the field and blew an 18-point firsthalf lead as the Hawks defeated Orlando 101-93 at Amway Center.
Nikola Vucevic had 27, Evan Fournier had 22 and D.J. Augustin added 17 for Orlando.
The Magic (14-19) had stretches when their offense was good.
Orlando used a big second quarter to establish a 57-47 lead heading into halftime. Augustin had 12 points in the quarter as Orlando outscored Atlanta 36-22 in the period and built its 18-point lead.
However, the offense became stagnant in the second half and Atlanta needed only the third period to erase the deficit.
The Hawks (7-27) outscored the Magic 27-15 in the third period to take a 74-72 lead into the fourth
quarter. Orlando went 6-for-22 from the field, including 1-for-8 from the 3-point line in the period.
Without Young — who missed the game after spraining his ankle against Milwaukee on Friday — and his 28.5 points per game, Atlanta relied on former UCF and Florida Gulf Coast player Brandon Goodwin. Goodwin, who had scored five points in four games leading up to Monday’s contest, tallied 21 points off the bench in 22 minutes.
Former Magic player and Daytona Beach native Vince Carter returned to Orlando and was greeted with a video tribute in the first quarter. He also received an ovation from the crowd when he first entered the contest. Carter averaged 16.3 points per game during 97 games with Orlando.
The Magic were without Aaron Gordon, who sustained a left Achilles injury during the third quarter of Orlando’s 111-100 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday. Gordon could also miss Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game at the Washington Wizards, according to Clifford.
Gordon underwent an MRI on Sunday and there was no structural damage and there was only some slight inflammation in the ankle. Gordon is third on the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 points per game. He is tied for second on the team in rebounds at 7.1 per game.
Mo Bamba returned after missing two games with a sprained ankle. Bamba had three points in 13 minutes played and struggled against the Hawks’ frontcourt size on the defensive end.
Magic guard Evan Fournier goes up for a shot in front of Hawks guard Kevin Huerter on Monday night at Amway Center.
Magic forward Wes Iwundu, bottom right, crashes into head coach Steve Clifford while going for the ball during the second half Monday night.