PREVIEW: Orlando Magic hope to stop 4-game skid as Hawks visit

Feb 27, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) yells as he is fouled by Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) during the second quarter of a game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic will attempt to end a four-game losing streak when they host the Atlanta Hawks and new interim coach Nate McMillan on Wednesday in the both teams’ final contest before the All-Star break.

The inconsistent Magic fell 130-124 to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, extending the skid that has followed a three-game winning streak.

The Hawks defeated the host Miami Heat 94-80 in McMillan’s debut as head coach on Tuesday. McMillan previously served as interim head coach for three games — and went 2-1 — while Lloyd Pierce was away because of the birth of his daughter and dealing with COVID-19 issues. Pierce was fired Monday.

The series between the clubs has always been competitive. They split four games last season and the all-time series is tied 60-60. This is the first meeting between the sides this season.

Orlando tied its Monday game in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Evan Fournier. However, the veteran guard was removed from the contest after aggravating his groin and back, injuries he has dealt with all season. Fournier went to the locker room for treatment and returned to finish with 26 points. He was listed as questionable for the Wednesday game.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks fire head coach Lloyd Pierce, turn to Nate McMillan

The Magic got another big game from center Nikola Vucevic, who had 29 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. He shot 12-for-24 from the floor and the team hit 49.5 percent, well above its season average of 43.2 percent. Orlando is 4-0 when it shoots at least 50 percent from the floor.

“I think our shot-making was better tonight for sure, but I just don’t think we stayed consistent with what works for us throughout the 48 minutes,” Vucevic said.

Vucevic has led the team or tied for the lead in scoring 24 times, in rebounding 27 times and assists eight times. He has 24 double-doubles and one triple double.

Vucevic will be challenged by Atlanta center Clint Capela, who grabbed 17 rebounds on Tuesday. Capela has pulled down at least 10 rebounds in 29 of the 32 games in which he has played.

Hawks forward John Collins had 17 points and seven rebounds on Tuesday but didn’t play in the fourth quarter. McMillan said it was based on matchups, and the Hawks won the final quarter 31-14 to pull out the victory.

Atlanta guard Trae Young is in a mild scoring slump. He has totaled only 50 points over the past three games after scoring 18 in the Tuesday win. It is the first time this season he has gone three consecutive games without scoring at least 20 in one of the contests.

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Asked about the coaching change, Young said, “Obviously it’s a tough situation. But for me, my main focus is on this team and how I can help this team moving forward and helping us get to the playoffs. So that’s my main focus. Everything else … it’s what it is, and my main focus is trying to help my team win.”

Atlanta was helped Tuesday by the return of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had not played since Jan. 9 due to an avulsion fracture of his right knee. The veteran is on restricted minutes, but he played 16 minutes and had five points and four assists.

The Hawks are still without De’Andre Hunter (right knee surgery) and Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness).

–Field Level Media