HAWKSVILLE – Stay low any of you unlucky Hawks fans in or around Orlando this weekend.
After your team’s performance against the Magic Friday night (yeah, I know it was a preseason game and doesn’t actually count for anything) might get you run out of town.
For those of you like me that watched the game from afar, you’re probably still trying to get the tag of that 18-wheeler that steamrolled the Hawks (the carnage was all over Amway Arena at the end of the Magic’s 123-86 demolition).
I know there’s not much to be gleamed from a preseason game, especially one where you get beaten senseless (did the Magic miss from deep in the first half?). But this game had special circumstances. It’s the Magic and Hawks, the two teams that finished 1-2 in the Southeast Division last year.
You had to know the Magic would be eager to send a message. I was expecting the Hawks to rise up and answer that challenge with a shot or two of their own. They did not. They looked lost out there. They were unable to match the Magic in any facet of the game. It was an embarrassing showing for a team that fancies itself an outfit on the rise.
Sure, I know it won’t mean anything in the morning. The real games start Wednesday and all that good stuff.
Remember what you saw on this night, though (well not you Jeff Teague. Put this game in the trash can and move on rookie. It happens, these dreadful shooting nights). The Magic won’t forget. They know they put their finger in the face of the Hawks and didn’t get slugged in return. That means the psychological, physical and emotional edge they had over their supposed chief rival remains intact from last season (you remember the way the Magic abused the Hawks every chance they could, just to drive it home that they were not threatened by the occasional Hawks win in the series).
A rivalry requires the Hawks to step up to the challenge, even in the preseason. They did nothing. They took one lick after another and barely showed any resistance. Winning the game wasn’t important. I wanted to see if the Hawks would bow up and scrap with the Magic if they got pushed around early and they ran the other way. It was a surprising response from a team that’s talked big since the end of last season about coming back this year better and hungrier than they were a year ago
Anyone wondering why the national pundits and fans in other places don’t take the Hawks serious, rewind the tape and watch this game again and you’ll have your answer. And that space between the Hawks and the upper crust of the Eastern Conference (the Magic, Celtics and Cavaliers) is even greater than I realized.
(We could spend a little time deciphering the box score from this game but what’s the use? Sometimes it’s best to just go to sleep and wake up with something else on your mind.)