When the Orlando Magic are scoring and shooting as well as they did for much of Monday’s game, it needs to be enough for a win.
It wasn’t because the Magic were unable get stops and sent the Atlanta Hawks to the free throw line far too frequently in a 129-111 loss.
“We have to hang our hat on the defenisve end,” Jamahl Mosley told reporters after the game. “129 is not what we are looking for.”
The Hawks had four starters finish with 20-plus points as Atlanta shot 55.3 percent from the field and attempted 32 free throws (making just 21 to prevent an even more lopsided score).
“We’ve gotta do a better job of understanding when we’re in the bonus and not reaching down and fouling,” Mosley said. “We had done a good job last game but tonight we reverted back to a little bit of swiping down versus just showing our hands and making them take tough shots or contest.”
Things began quite well for the Magic, particularly for Wendell Carter Jr., who in the first six minutes of the game hit his first four shots, including two makes from long range for 10 quick points. That helped the Magic, who made 5 of 11 attempts from three in the first, take a 31-30 lead after one.
Carter Jr., though, would attempt just one shot in the second quarter (another made three) and his next wouldn’t come until just 6:27 remained in the game with the Magic already down big.
Nevertheless, scoring wasn’t the main issue for Orlando as Cole Anthony dropped 29 points and a career-high 11 assists (much more analysis on Anthony’s offensive ascension coming on Tuesday courtesy of our Garrett Townsend).
Carter Jr. finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, shooting 6-for-8 from the field, including 3 of 3 from deep.
Franz Wagner added 19 points, and at the defensive end continued to show his versatility by guarding Trae Young at times. Terrence Ross also had 19 points, but went just 3 of 12 from three as the Magic finished 16-for-43 from long range.
With Jalen Suggs out with an ankle injury, Gary Harris got the start and seemed to press at times. He finished with eight points on 3-for-8 shooting in 30 minutes. R.J. Hampton, who Anthony casually mentioned in a recent postgame interview has been unhappy with his playing time, had seven points in 15 minutes.
Young and John Collins led Atlanta with 23 points each. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Clint Capela added 20 each.
That was enough to hand the Magic a loss in what was the first game of a five-game road trip. It continues in New York on Wednesday with a matchup against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.