NBA Basketball

Struggling Magic aim to get well against Hawks

The Orlando Magic were pleased with what they achieved in New York but frustrated with what unfolded the next night in Charlotte.

After mixed results on a back-to-back set, the Magic host the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night.

Starting with a 105-83 home loss to the Chicago Bulls, Orlando (10-15) is 4-13 in its last 17 games and the last two results highlight the inconsistency.

On Sunday, the Magic built a 17-point lead as Nikola Vucevic scored 34 points in a 105-100 win over the Knicks. The next night Orlando was handed a 104-94 loss to the Hornets when it shot 43.9 percent, committed 20 turnovers and experienced a foul shot disparity of 40-14.

Vucevic followed up his second-most productive showing of the season by scoring 10 points. The Magic are 2-10 when he scores less than 15 points.

"It's a tough loss," Orlando guard D.J. Augustin said. "A game like that, we felt like we should have won, so to not get it done hurts. We can't turn the ball over, especially against a team like that who's got a lot of firepower. We can't turn the ball over. We've got to play better on offense and just stay together."

Those things wasted a decent defensive night for the Magic, whose 111 points allowed per game is among the worst in the league. Monday equaled its fifth-lowest point total allowed and Charlotte's 40.5 field goal percentage was Orlando's fourth-lowest allowed and the 17.5 from 3-point range was the team's second-best defensive showing against 3-point shots.

"Everybody on our team, they fought hard," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "Our bench turned the game around, had a nice little run in the first half and a nice little run in the second half. Their bench countered and played well. Credit the Hornets for getting the 'W.'"

Atlanta experienced similar feelings as Orlando, just not in a back-to-back. The Hawks (5-18) split a home-and-home set with the Brooklyn Nets.

On Saturday, Atlanta took the lead for good late in the first quarter of a 114-102 win at Brooklyn. On Monday, the Hawks gave up the first 17 points of the second half and trailed by as many as 29 in a 110-90 loss to the Nets.

It was Atlanta's 11th double-digit loss but only second by at least 20 points, which was even more disappointing considering what the up-tempo first half looked like.

"It was a really, really highly competitive first half," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Both teams were getting into each other, both teams were really getting after it. It seems like we didn't have the same juice, the same energy in the third quarter and that does carry over to your shooting."

Budenholzer is correct.

The Hawks missed their first 13 shots of the second half and made 3 of 22 shots in the decisive third quarter, including a 1 of 12 showing on shots inside the paint.

Atlanta also gave up 40 points inside after allowing 28 Saturday in its second game starting Miles Plumlee at center. Plumlee is starting because of the leg injury sustained by Dewayne Dedmon and the shoulder injury sustained by rookie John Collins.

"I think we came out with energy in the first quarter, in the second quarter the same," Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder said. "Third quarter, we didn't. We have to give them credit for that. They made their shots, got some stops, and that's the reason we lost the game."

Schroder is hoping not to make a similar postgame comment Wednesday. He scored 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting but was 1 of 5 in the decisive third quarter.

Atlanta is off to its worst 23-game start since the 2004-05 season when it finished with a 13-69 record.

The teams split the four-game series last season with each game being decided by double digits.

Orlando shot 58.6 percent in its 131-120 win at Atlanta on Dec. 13 and, also notched a 105-86 home win on Feb. 25. The Hawks shot over 50 percent in their wins over the Magic last season on Jan. 4 and Feb. 4.

Updated December 5, 2017

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