On Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic lost their ninth consecutive head-to-head game against the Atlanta Hawks. Hawks big men Josh Smith and Al Horford combined for 56 points, 22 rebounds, and 10 assists in the rout, one in which no Magic player scored more than 10 points.
Atlanta's frontline dominates Orlando
"That was the start, their bigs," head coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We talked about it before the start of the game: extremely physical, aggressive and you know, they had a double-digit more offensive rebounds in that first half than us." Atlanta's halftime advantage in offensive rebounds was 11-3, and its second-chance points advantage was 14-2.
"They're a big load," Magic center Nikola Vucevic said of Horford and Smith. "They play well together and they're hard to guard. They've been in the league for a while now and it's just tough matchup to play against."
Vaughn hopes Orlando takes the loss personally.
"Overall, I mean this is your liveliehood, and me speaking for myself, I took it home also, and it was a part of me," Vaughn said. "And hopefully those are the kind of guys we have in our locker room that they care about it, that it means something, that it's not a territory we want to continue to live. And that's okay to not accept it at the end of the day. For us as a team we just want to continue to push forward in a positive way."
Magic guard J.J. Redick, who scored eight points, might have said it best.
"Nothing more to say. We got punked."
All-Star Weekend exciting for Magic
Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson will play in Friday's Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend. The exhibition features two teams comprised of first- and second-year players.
"We, as an organization, are extremely excited," Vaughn said. "I'm looking forward to watching those guys on television, seeing their Magic jerseys. Both of them deserve it. We're proud of them and hopefully they go play and get some time to rest also.
"You know, all those All-Star games are interesting to watch to see how many shots they get up, how much time they play, how much fun they have with their peers because that won't happen again and they should have fun with it."
Vucevic shares Vaughn's excitement. "It will be fun. I'm looking forward to it. We're leaving tomorrow for Houston. It'll be fun to be part of that weekend with a lot of excitement and a lot of people to meet there."
Evan Dunlap contributed reporting.