The Orlando Magic look to secure consecutive home wins for the first time this season when they host Trae Young and the slumping Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
Any success will benefit an Orlando squad that remains competitive while trying to find elusive victories.
As for Atlanta, the Hawks constructed a seven-game winning streak in November but play Orlando having dropped five of their last seven to fall below .500. That included Monday’s 132-126 setback — Atlanta’s fifth straight home loss — to Houston as the Rockets scored 44 fourth-quarter points.
“I think a lot of times we’re concerned about the offensive end of the floor,” Atlanta head coach Nate McMillan said postgame Monday. “It’s both ends of the floor that you have to play, and you have to execute. We’ve been talking about finishing games here lately and there’s been some games where offensively we haven’t been able to score. And then there’s some games where defensively we can’t get stops, and you need to do both to win games.”
Young totaled 41 points (14-for-22 shooting) and nine assists on Monday, narrowly ending his string of five consecutive games with 25-plus points and 10-plus assists.
The Magic return home following a winless five-game road swing that featured two-point losses to Houston (on Eric Gordon’s basket in the lane with 1.6 seconds left) and the Los Angeles Clippers (on Reggie Jackson’s mid-range jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining).
The trip concluded this past Sunday with a 106-94 loss to the host Los Angeles Lakers, who outscored Orlando 36-10 in a pivotal third quarter. Four Magic players scored in double figures led by Cole Anthony’s 21 points, but NBA Western Conference Player of the Week LeBron James’ 30-point triple-double was too much to overcome.
Orlando head coach Jamahl Mosley continues to see the learning process unfold. However, the Magic remain one of the league’s most injured teams and that includes rookie guard Jalen Suggs, who suffered a fractured thumb on his shooting (right) hand against Philadelphia on Nov. 29.
“Again, we got the looks we wanted,” Mosley said after the Lakers loss. “A couple shots missed here and there changes the game, but for the most part this group has hung tough together and fought every single night of a (10-day) road trip.”
Orlando’s last win came on Dec. 1 at the Amway Center, 108-103 over the Denver Nuggets. The Magic have lost 15 of 17 games overall since their only other home victory on Nov. 7 against the Utah Jazz.
Anthony averaged 22.7 points and shot 40.4 percent from beyond the arc over his last six games, while forward Franz Wagner leads all NBA rookies with 17 games scoring 15 or more points. The former Michigan Wolverines’ star had 20 points against the Lakers and is averaging 14.3 points in 28 games this season.
Atlanta has won the last four meetings with Orlando, including a 129-111 victory on Nov. 15 at State Farm Arena. John Collins and Young had 23 points apiece, Clint Capela contributed 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Bogdan Bogdanovic made four 3-pointers as part of a 20-point performance.
Bogdanovic missed his sixth straight game on Monday due to a sprained right ankle. The Hawks are already without forwards De’Andre Hunter (wrist surgery) and Solomon Hill (torn right hamstring tendon).
Orlando center Mo Bamba played only 12 minutes against the Lakers after he suffered a sprained right ankle.
–Field Level Media