What a difference three weeks and 400 miles makes. The Atlanta Hawks avenged a humiliating home loss to the Orlando Magic by pounding Orlando 111-92 at the Amway Center on Wednesday night.
Atlanta was clearly the better team on this night in all facets. They made shots, forced turnovers and made the Magic work for every point they made.
The Hawks led for most of the game and when the Magic made a fourth quarter run to cut a 16-point lead to four, Atlanta responded. This can be defined as one of those games the Magic were not going to win.
It was not because of a lack of effort. Orlando competed and got on the floor for loose balls, but 17 turnovers and being outgunned doomed the Magic.
Atlanta made more than half of their shots, including three-point tries. Former Magic center Dwight Howard was one of six Hawks scoring in double figures. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and even made all three of his free throw attempts.
Despite the return of leading scorer Evan Fournier from injury and a re-insertion of Elfrid Payton into the starting lineup, the Magic could not match the efficiency they brought to Atlanta on their big victory there in December. Payton had 15 points and eight assists, while Fournier had 14 points.
While Coach Frank Vogel would not say the officials cost them the game in a 19-point loss, but he was demonstrably frustrated on the court. It did appear the Magic were on the short end of numerous calls, which led Serge Ibaka to draw two technical fouls, leading to his ejection.
“I can’t say what I want to about the officials; I’ll get fined for that,” said Vogel. “But I will be on the phone to the league office, probably after (this press conference).”
Vogel also expressed some dissatisfaction with his team’s defense, while praising that of their opponent.
“Give the Hawks credit. They really executed on the offensive end,” he said. “But they were just a bit too comfortable. Sometimes you can get a hold of it, like we did in New York, but not tonight. They are a great defensive team. They got into us better than we got into them.”
The loss dropped the Magic to 16-21, including 7-12 at home. It does not get any easier as they host James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Friday night.