– The Magic have the kind of program the Hawks are trying to build. Yes, they have a top five player and the Hawks don’t. Orlando is deeper than Atlanta. But the Magic might be underachievers, too, if Stan Van Gundy hadn’t molded them into a team where every guy is expected to bust their tail defensively all the time.
– “They are one of the best teams in the league because they can defend,” Marvin said. “They can flat-out guard. A lot of people say it’s because of their offense but it’s because they guard. They have a lot of energy on the defensive end, and that’s why they’re one of the top two or three teams.”
– It’s just a preseason game but beforehand L.D. talked about a “new attitude” for the Hawks against Orlando. There was no sign of that. “I don’t seem them fearing us at all,” Josh said. “That means we have to go back to the lab.”
– The Hawks had pretty good defensive energy for a couple quarters but couldn’t score. Then they couldn’t do either in the third quarter as the Magic put them away with 35 points.
– Not sure if this is irony but it was weird to see: Some of Atlanta’s best shooters passed on open shots and instead kept passing the ball around until someone was forced to shoot late in the clock. Marvin was a major offender. From Iso-Joe to meaningless motion?
– “Very, very surprised,” L.D. said. “We have got some guys that can make shots and under no circumstances do I want guys hesitating on their shots.”
– J.J. was having a very good preseason and suddenly he’s clanking open shots off the front of the rim. Al had played smart offense but now he was forcing it while also picking up bad fouls. Jamal missed several runners in the lane.
– You see stuff like that and start to wonder if the Hawks have a mental block when it comes to Orlando. Then you see that third quarter and you are reminded the Magic are just a lot better than the Hawks one through 10.
– You could hear some echoes of May 2009 in much of what L.D. said after. On the third quarter: “We collapsed defensively.” On the lack of offense: “We missed a lot of shots but we had some good looks.” On the team’s psyche: “We got upset when shots weren’t going down and then we started forcing things. I said, ‘Look, guys, it’s a long season. The true test for us is how we weather those type storms.’”
– At least it’s still the preseason and not the East semifinals. “That team is on a mission and we’ve got to get like that,” L.D. said. “They are certainly a measuring stick. They are playing at a high level, they are playing with a lot of intensity. They getting the job done now. They are now waiting until the start of the regular season. That’s where we have to get to.”
– Al, Zaza, Twin and Etan all took their turns on Dwight. Even Smoove checked on a couple possessions. Howard got his but the Hawks weren’t helped by quick whistles on some touch fouls against him.
– Twin showed a little something against Dwight and Gortat. He’s moving better now and Dwight doesn’t like it when big bodies stay in front of him. You know he’s bothered when he starts griping to the refs each time he doesn’t score.
– Atlanta trailed just 44-34 at the half despite missing 29 of 41 shots. “I told them at halftime if you continue the consistency defensively and make some shots, you will be right there,” L.D. said.
– But the Hawks missed 14 of 21 shots in the third while Orlando was 11 of 18. The Magic closed the period with a 25-10 run, and Howard was on the bench for all but five of those points. The Magic had Atlanta scrambling with crisp passes until they got open shots.
– The thing about the Magic is even if you guard them well for most of a possession they can still score. Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and J.J. Redick all made some tough shots late in the clock. The problem for the Hawks is their spirits sag when that happens, they miss bad shots and suddenly the Magic are off on a run.
– Orlando has won 20 straight preseason games, which might not mean much if they didn’t have a Finals and East finals to their credit in the last two years. “What’s been getting us through right now is our intensity and our defense,” Van Gundy said. “I think we’re defending hard, and we’re defending the ball. Our guys are really getting after it and that’s why we’re playing well right now.”
– Teague sat out again and is shooting to return Thursday against the Heat. Pape Sy still doesn’t know when he will be cleared to practice.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.