Someone is going to end their losing streak on Wednesday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit the Orlando Magic.
The Hawks have lost three in a row after Monday’s 104-101 defeat in Philadelphia. Orlando has dropped five straight after a 109-102 loss at Brooklyn on the same night.
Atlanta’s skid is its longest of the season; Orlando also lost five in a row to open the season.
This will be the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. Atlanta prevailed 108-98 in the first contest on Oct. 21. The Hawks have won two in a row against the Magic dating to last season.
Both teams had trouble against the opposition’s top player on Monday. Atlanta allowed Joel Embiid to score 30 points, including Philadelphia’s last 11 points. Orlando couldn’t stop Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, who scored a season-high 45 points.
“It’s tough playing against a player like that, but it also makes you better as a player, as a team,” Orlando’s Franz Wagner said.
Wagner was a bright spot in the game. He scored 21, while Paolo Banchero and Bol Bol each scored 24.
Banchero leads the Magic in scoring average (22.9 points a game) and has 20-plus points in 10 games. Wagner is averaging 19.5 points and has scored at least 20 in 12 games. Bol averages 13.5 points and has six double-doubles.
The Magic had only four reserves available on Monday, including two-way contract players Admiral Schofield and Kevon Harris. Orlando could get Mo Bamba (back spasms) back on Wednesday.
Wendell Carter Jr. (plantar fascia strain), Jalen Suggs (ankle soreness), Chuma Okeke (knee soreness), Cole Anthony (oblique), Markelle Fultz (toe) and Terrence Ross (illness) all missed Monday’s game. Okeke, who was upgraded to questionable, is the most likely to return.
“Yes, we’re bodies down and we’re beat up and we’re losing guys left and right,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “But at the end of the day the guys who are on the court have to make sure they’re willing to step in there and play, play the right way, play hard and play for one another.”
The Hawks have not found a way to close during their three-game skid. They had a double-digit lead in each game but couldn’t win. On Monday, the problem was turnovers: Atlanta had 20, including six in the final quarter.
“That’s where the execution comes in,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We had a couple of costly turnovers late in the game.”
Trae Young leads the team in scoring (27.7 ppg) but has back-to-back games of 22 and 18 points after his 44-point effort against Houston on Friday. Young had 10 assists against the Sixers and is averaging 25.3 points and 7.4 assists in 14 career games against Orlando.
The Hawks benefited from the return of Clint Capela, who missed two games with dental pain. He averages 11 points and 12.1 rebounds a game. John Collins has seen a surge in production and has 36 points and 22 rebounds over the past two games.
–Field Level Media