Jonathan Issac Leads Balanced Magic to Blow out Win vs. Trae Young, Hawks

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 10: Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic dunks against the Atlanta Hawks on February 10, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Orlando Magic matched a season high with a third straight win after a 124-108 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, but the Magic (25-32) were the better team in this one thanks to 19 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic. Seven players on the team finished in double figures, including Jonathan Isaac with 17 in the road win at State Farm Arena.

Trae Young finished with 13 points and seven assists as the Hawks (18-38) lost their fifth straight home game.

           

Jonathan Isaac Is Starting to Reach Lofty Expectations for Magic

Even as the No. 6 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Jonathan Isaac has been overlooked by many as a quality prospect, thanks mostly to the massive amount of hype surrounding so many others in the class.

After some up-and-down play over the first year-and-a-half of his career, however, the forward is finally showcasing his ability at this level.

Isaac helped in a bunch of ways Sunday, finishing with 17 points, two steals and five blocks.

Three of his blocks came on a single possession, all against Collins:

His effort on both ends of the court is starting to turn heads:

This solid play has become a regularity for Isaac, who has now multiple blocks in six games and double-digit points in six of his last seven. Entering Sunday, he was averaging 12.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks over his past six games.

The second-year player has showcased outstanding defense with his length affecting both shots and passes, but his offense continues to take massive strides this year. Perhaps most encouraging, he made three three-pointers against the Hawks and is 6-of-13 from deep over his last two games.

Orlando has an All-Star this season in Vucevic, but it needs its highly drafted players to start reaching expectations. With Mo Bamba on the bench with a stress fracture, the spotlight is on Isaac to show he can be a part of the team’s future.

Based on what he has displayed in the past couple of weeks, he should be a big part of the Magic’s plans.

        

Hawks Must Focus on Defense in Offseason Acquisitions

Atlanta is clearly in rebuilding mode, so the results don’t matter too much. Still, the squad has showed in the last two months after a miserable start that it could be competitive in the NBA.

Collins could potentially be an All-Star down the line, while rookies Young and Kevin Huerter have each put up impressive numbers in the backcourt.

However, the roster as currently assembled won’t compete with playoff teams on a regular basis because of the lack of defensive stoppers.

The Magic faced little resistance on that end of the court, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 13-of-37 from three-point range. They also got to the line often, which has been a theme for most Hawks opponents this season.

This all has added up to the Hawks allowing the most points per game in the NBA this season. Even with the team’s fast pace canceled out, the squad ranks 27th in the league in defensive efficiency, per Basketball Reference.

Orlando was the ninth straight team to top 110 points against Atlanta and 15th of the last 16 games.

It was not a good offensive night for the Hawks either, but they didn’t really have a chance with the way their opponent was scoring with ease.

The front office needs to realize this problem and begin targeting players who make a bigger impact defensively to balance things out. Even if Young improves on that end, he will never be a plus defender on the perimeter.

Draft prospects like De’Andre Hunter or Nassir Little could be ideal fits to help defend the perimeter, while a rim-protecting center should be targeted in free agency.

If the organization simply focuses on offense once again, the results won’t be too much better on the court.

      

What’s Next?

Both teams will get just one day off before playing again on Tuesday. The Hawks will host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Magic will go on the road to face the New Orleans Pelicans.

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA http://bit.ly/2gMI6gF

February 10, 2019 at 06:58PM

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