|2009/2010 NBA Season
|January 9th, 2010
|November 26th: Magic 93, Hawks 76
The Orlando Magic will try to end their four-game losing streak tonight against the Atlanta Hawks, who loom just a half-game back in the Southeast Division standings. With a loss, Orlando would cede first place to Atlanta and face serious questions before embarking on its upcoming four-game road trip. Clearly, a win would be key.
The last time these teams met, the Magic limited the Hawks to 25 second-half points, with reserve point guard Anthony Johnson scoring 17 surprise points to help propel Orlando's rally. Shooting guard Vince Carter added 21. Neither player figures to see much time tonight, as Carter's day-to-day with a sprained left shoulder and Johnson has re-assumed his third-string role following Jameer Nelson's return to the starting unit. Where will the points come from tonight? That's been the $64,000 question in each of the last two games with the offense lagging, but it's especially important tonight, given who stepped up for Orlando when it last faced Atlanta.
The Hawks were mired in a four-game slump of their own before posting wins over New Jersey on Wednesday and, much more impressively, Boston last night. Atlanta boasts the league's second most-efficient offense thanks to excellent ball control and a high shooting percentage. Five players average double-figure scoring, and starting point guard Mike Bibby isn't far away with 9.9 per contest. Leading scorers Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford are on a tear from three-point range of late, both shooting 6-of-10 during the current 2-game win streak. Their shooting must concern Orlando, which has at times failed to pick up shooters in transition.
Coach Stan Van Gundy is due to meet with the media momentarily, so I'm going to duck out. The game tips shortly after 7 PM.