Magic vs. Hawks Final Score: Atlanta Hawks 83, Orlando Magic 78

You were here the whole time...

Quick Thought: Man, Orlando has to wonder if they'll ever beat the Hawks again.

Deep(er) Thoughts:

Please, somebody tell me how this team became so unlikable on the court. Is it the players' fatigue, my fatigue, the injuries, the schedule -- I am really at a loss.

This team does so many things wrong on the court right now between weak defensive positions, careless offensive possessions, wacko rotational choices -- there is not a single person exempt from it. So for now, I'll chalk it up to fatigue and let the All-Star break wash away the stink and start back new with the second "half" of the season.

With all of that, how did Orlando not beat Atlanta? Will they ever again? After last season's franchise altering deals that sent Hawk Hater Vince Carter away along with pain-in-the-butt Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat and Rashard Lewis, the Magic can't get past Atlanta.

Tonight, with Joe Johnson and Al Horford nowhere to be found in uniform and the team floundering with 18 turnovers, shooting under 40 percent with eight of their shots blocked and with a fully operational Dwight Howard in uniform along with Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick, the Magic still couldn't get the job done, even when the Hawks were begging them to in the second half. Whoa.

Game Balls:

Zaza Pachulia. Wait, so we had a center that could defend Dwight Howard straight up and hold him down while the rest of the team closed out the shooters? I am so confused what two years and currently two roster spots have been spent for.

Josh Smith. His fast first quarter start (12 minutes, 14 points, two rebounds, two steals and no turnovers) almost absolves the slow finish, represented by the subsequent three quarters (28 minutes, eight points, eight rebounds, two blocks and four turnovers). At least the defensive rebounds were there tonight as they were big in the fourth quarter. And I've never been so happy to see Josh launch jump shots than when he put them up when on the court with what can be charitably described as the mop-up crew on other playoff teams.

Afterthoughts:

I can't with good conscience believer that Joe Johnson's minutes are best used between Willie Green and Jannero Pargo and not between Marvin Williams, Tracy McGrady and Kirk Hinrich. Can't be so.

Better late game defender: Marvin Williams or Vladimir Radmanovic? Better late game shot maker, same players?

Jeff Teague's lack of confidence - Heck, I call him the Shy Guy - shows in the fourth quarter when he doesn't seem to know what he wants to do with the offense or if he does, he's afraid to do it. Indecisive and timid, he looks the opposite of the earlier game Teague in some games. This also manifests itself in his late game free throws where he looks uncomfortable and misses those critical points. More playing time could solve it - would like to see him assert himself emotionally on the team - -right now that emotion I see is submission.

Would love to give Willie Green more props - and hey, he did make a couple of big hoops down the stretch - but there is a reason why Stan Van Gundy places J.J Redick exactly when Willie Green comes in - Green's lack of defense.

Final Thought:

Thank goodness it's the All-Star break. Get well soon, Joe and Al. Enjoy the time off, Hawks, and come back fighting. Please.

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