Orlando lost its third straight game and its seventh in eight games on Monday afternoon, as Scott Skiles' squad fell to Atlanta, 98-81. The loss knocked the Magic to 20-20 on the season, and bumped the team to ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
From the get go, the Hawks imposed their will on Orlando. Al Horford scored 1:08 into the game, and for the rest of the game, Mike Budenholzer's squad led. The Magic didn't score until the 9:14 mark of the quarter, and by then, Atlanta had already opened up a 7-3 lead. The top two scorers for Orlando in the quarter were Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic, and the pair only had 6 and 4 points, respectively. Heading into the second quarter, Atlanta had a 24-17 lead.
The second quarter was more of the same. While Vucevic (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Aaron Gordon (7 points, 6 rebounds) both had solid box scores by the end of the half, Atlanta got almost whatever it wanted on the offensive side of the court while Orlando struggled. By the end of the half, Atlanta had a 51-38 lead, and Orlando couldn't get anything going on offense – the team was 15-for-44 from the field in the half, good for a 34.1 percent clip, including 2-for-9 from three. The Hawks, meanwhile, shot 56 percent in the first half of the game and had 14 assists on 22 made field goals, a remarkably efficient performance from one of the league's most efficient offenses. Interestingly enough, neither team featured a double-digit scorer in the half, as Vucevic and Paul Millsap led the way for both teams with 9 points.
Orlando started to make things interesting early on in the third quarter, mostly behind Payton and Fournier hitting threes early in the frame. The Magic got the Hawks' lead down to six, but after Budenholzer called a time out, Atlanta regained its composure, squashed Orlando's early 10-3 run, and managed to get a comfortable lead once again. By the time the quarter ended, the Hawks were ahead, 72-59. The good news for Orlando was Payton played really well – he ended the quarter with 16 points and 5 assists, and even managed to knock down back-to-back threes.
The fourth quarter was much of the same – Atlanta's offense managed to take care of business, while Orlando's offense wasn't able to score enough to get back in the game. There were several positives for the Magic to take away, namely that Gordon and Mario Hezonja both scored 6 points in the quarter, but for the most part, the fourth quarter was time for the guys on both benches to get some run.
Not only was Orlando's offense stagnant, but its defense couldn't slow down the Hawks' offense. Orlando went 30-for-87 (34.5 percent) from the field and 6-for-22 (27.3 percent) from three, while Atlanta was 41-for-80 (51.3 percent) from the field and 9-for-19 (47.4 percent) from three. Gordon led the way for the Magic with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Payton went for 16 points and 5 assists. The only other players to score in double-digits for Scott Skiles were Vucevic and Hezonja – both scored 10 points.
Orlando will try to snap out of its funk on Wednesday, when the team hosts Philadelphia. The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. EST from the Amway Center.