The second half, not so much.
Magic: Rookie F Isaac Austin, who has not played since Dec. 26 due to a sore right ankle, will play in a NBA G League game Friday night. … Vucevic had missed 23 games with a fractured left hand. … Gordon had missed nine games (and the All-Star Slam Dunk contest) with a strained left hip flexor.
“The defense was bad, really bad in the first quarter,” Kanter said. “Coach came into the locker room and said one thing: `We are not going to watch any film. Just go out there and get loose and start the second half with energy.’ We have enough guys to shoot and score the ball. The most important for us right now is defense.”
“I get criticized for not playing defense. I have accepted that in the past. I’m not accepting it now,” Burke said. “I know I’m quick enough to play defense, I have the mentality to play defense and I know I can be a pest on the ball.”
While he didn’t play a single game in 2017 and has more mileage under his belt than most quarterbacks with 76 career starts, Andrew Luck is a singular presence who can spark an immediate turnaround. We saw this in 2012 when he teamed with first-year head coach Chuck Pagano to take a 2-14 team and push it to an 11-5 record as a rookie. He’ll have a similar task ahead of him in 2018, assuming he’s back to 100 percent after rehabbing the shoulder injury that cost him this past season.
2019 marks the first time the game has been played in Atlanta since 2000, when Tennessee’s Kevin Dyson was stopped half a yard short from giving the world its first-ever Super Bowl overtime. It will be the third time the game has gone to Georgia’s capital and the first to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The stadium is less than 1 year old, but it’s no stranger to big games. MBS played host to 2017’s SEC Championship Game, which pushed the Georgia Bulldogs into the College Football Playoff over the Auburn Tigers. One month later, it was the setting for the CFP National Championship Game, where Alabama knocked off the Bulldogs in overtime after an epic comeback.