Magic of­fense stalls dur­ing loss

Or­lando blows half­time lead, strug­gles per­sist against Hawks.

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Luis Torres

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.

PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP

Magic guard Evan Fournier goes up for a shot in front of Hawks guard Kevin Huerter on Mon­day night at Amway Cen­ter.

PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP

Magic for­ward Wes Iwundu, bot­tom right, crashes into head coach Steve Clif­ford while go­ing for the ball dur­ing the sec­ond half Mon­day night.

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