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Hawks 101, Magic 93: The league’s worst team played without their best player and beat the Magic

Worst loss of the season for the Magic

Atlanta Hawks v Orlando Magic Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images

The Magic will be glad to flip the calendar and move on from this game, this month and this decade.

While the Magic have struggled to beat quality opponents this season, they’ve mostly been able to win the games they were expected to win. That wasn’t the case on Monday as the Magic concluded 2019 in ugly fashion.

The Hawks entered with a league-worst 6-27 record, having lost 10 straight games.

The Hawks own the league’s second worst defensive rating, allowing over 113 points per 100 possessions.

The Hawks were without Trae Young, who is averaging 28.5 points and has a usage rate of 34.5 (when Young is off the court, the Hawks’ offensive rating drops to 92.1 points per).

And yet, the Hawks came into Orlando and defeated the Magic, 101-93.

“It’s a terrible effort on our part,” Jonathan Isaac told reporters after the game. “And to allow this to happen, especially on our homecourt, there’s just not much to say.”

The Hawks got an unexpected spark to help compensate for the absence of Young and Jabari Parker (the team’s third leading scorer), leaving the shorthanded Magic to admire the depth of the league’s worst team for at least one night. Brandon Goodwin, a two-way player who went undrafted in 2018 after playing at UCF and Florida Gulf Coast University, dropped a career-high 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting, eclipsing his previous high of five points. Adding to the frustration of the loss was the fact that the Magic had built an 18-point lead in the first half before Goodwin (12 first-half points) helped chip away late in the second to cut the Orlando lead to 57-47 at the break.

The Orlando offense then became stagnant and started forcing shots that were not falling as the Magic shot just 36 percent from the field in the second half. The Magic were limited to six field goals in the third, just two more than Hawks’ backup center Alex Len (18 points, 12 rebounds) scored in the quarter alone, as the Hawks pulled to within 74-72 heading into the fourth.

Kevin Huerter scored 7 of his 19 points during an 11-0 Atlanta run that gave the Hawks a 90-78 lead with 7:12 to go. The Magic would cut the deficit to five but get no closer as they lost to the Hawks (7-27) for the second time this season.

Fournier after the game told reporters it was a “terrible loss.”

“We scored at times, but I feel like maybe for the first time this year, we didn’t play ball as a team offensively from the get-go, and it just caught up to us,” he said.

Nikola Vucevic had 27 points on 12-for-19 shooting in 35 minutes and even got an in-game tweet from Kevin Durant....

Fournier added 22 points and D.J. Augustin had 17 points and six assists off the bench for the Magic, who were playing without Aaron Gordon. Markelle Fultz had a poor shooting night for the second straight game, going just 1-for-7 for three points, but did have five assists and seven rebounds. The Magic overall shot 41.6 percent from the field and hit just 5 of 25 attempts from three, with Terrence Ross going 2-for-11 from the field and 0 of 4 from three. Orlando also went just 14 of 24 at the free throw line and was outrebounded 52-40 by a team with the league’s second worst rebounding percentage.

It was the low point of the Magic season to this point, and given the circumstances, one of the more disheartening losses of the decade.

The Magic (14-19) kick off 2020 with a match-up against the Wizards on New Year’s Day.