It was an all-too-familiar feeling in Atlanta on Thursday night when the Orlando Magic took the floor against the Atlanta Hawks.
After taking a 5-4 lead about a minute into the game, the Magic would never lead again, as both teams accomplished their goals from that point on. The Hawks, who are in a dogfight with the Miami Heat for the fourth and final homecourt playoff spot, dominated both ends of the floor in a must-win for seeding. The Magic, who are now openly participating in a race to the bottom, acquiesced and allowed the Hawks to play the deepest parts of their bench as the game got out of hand.
For the Magic, it’s best not to dig too deep into losses like this. The team shot 38 percent from the floor, even worse from three, and hit only 10 of their 15 free throws. The good news, however, is that there are only two games left on the schedule and the time for “chippy, hard-fought” losses is long gone.
Another silver lining was certainly the play of the Magic’s young building blocks that will be leading them into the future. R.J. Hampton scored a team-high 18 points on only 15 shots and pulled down eight boards. He was clearly the best player in pinstripes, and his growth throughout this season has been one of the best parts of it. Wendell Carter jr. had yet another double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Cole Anthony had a great first quarter and finished the first half with nine points.
The Hawks really put together a well-rounded performance in this one, and that may be more the cause of the lopsided score than the Magic’s shortcomings. Six Atlanta players scored in double figures, with former All-Star Trae Young taking a back seat in this one and letting the role players shine. Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanovic led all scorers with 27 points on a smooth 9-of-12 shooting, and their style of team-friendly basketball made it an early night for Magic fans with work in the morning.
Next up on the schedule, the Orlando Magic (21-49) travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers (48-23) twice to end the season.