The Orlando Magic didn’t get off to the start they wanted to with their brand new team, falling to the Hawks in Atlanta 91-81. With Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson in the starting lineup and Gilbert Arenas the first one off the bench, the Magic offense continued to struggle, posting an effective field goal percentage of just 38.0%. The Magic showed flashes of what their new squad could do. They erased an 11-point Hawks lead, tying the game at 55 with 4:39 to play but then allowed the Hawks to go on a 13-3 run and push the lead back to 10 at the 11 minute mark of the fourth quarter. The Magic cut the lead back to 8 but could never get any closer. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 19 points and 20 rebounds while former Florida Gator Al Horford scored 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting while pulling down 11 rebounds.
- It was a tough night for the newcomers. Gilbert Arenas hit a 3-pointer on his first shot attempt with the Magic but scored just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, Jason Richardson put up 9 points on 3-of-8 shooting and Hedo Turkoglu scored just 8 points on 1-of-4 shooting (5-of-6 from the free throw line).
- The newcomers, especially Turkoglu, got their teammates some open shots but nothing would go down an they didn’t do it nearly enough. Orlando was 4-of-17 (23.5%) from beyond the arc.
- Overall, the team didn’t seem to be on the same page on either side of the ball, despite the brief signs of life described above – it was another very poor offensive performance.
- The Magic played a little better on the defensive end but it wasn’t enough. They defended the pick-and-roll very poorly and let Mike Bibby torch them for a stretch. With Jamal Crawford injured, the Hawks were forced to play Bibby 40 minutes Monday night. He’s a defensive liability and although Jameer Nelson scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, they should have taken better advantage of their mismatches.
- Dwight Howard was Dwight Howard. He didn’t shoot well (6-of-14 from the field) but still scored 19 points and pulled down 20 of Orlando’s 18 rebounds. However, he still turned the ball over 5 times and could have had a better night.
- The Magic need to get Ryan Anderson and/or get another big man in a hurry. Malik Allen is a great locker room presence but he just can’t get the job done any more. Allen didn’t hit a shot and really struggled on the other end.
- The Hawks went to a bigger lineup, starting Jason Collins and playing him 24 minutes to counter the Magic’s lack of size. It really worked. The Hawks grabbed 51 rebounds to Orlando’s 38, including 13 offensive rebounds.
- Quentin Richardson had a night to forget, scoring a big goose egg on 0-of-4 shooting in 19 minutes.
Next Up: The Magic return home to take on the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night.
Final Thought: The Magic barely had a chance to have a walk-thru with their new team so there is nothing to panic about – it’s going to take some time.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com) and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).