BOSTON — Nik Vucevic never quite found his rhythm during the Orlando Magic's 104-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night in Atlanta.
Al Horford and backup big man Pero Antic effectively denied Vucevic the ball and pushed him off the block.
Vucevic finished the game with seven points on 3-of-10 shooting and six rebounds, and there was at least one occasion when Vucevic thought he'd been fouled but didn't receive a call.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn was asked about what the Magic can do to spark Vucevic a bit.
"Get a couple more years underneath his belt, and he'll continue to get down on that block and garner some respect," Vaughn said. "And he'll continue to play without talking, and that'll be his job and he'll be good at it."
The loss to Atlanta included a few positives for Vucevic.
He recorded four assists, and Vaughn also liked that Vucevic drew a few fouls on the Hawks.
On Monday night, the Magic will face the Boston Celtics.
Players from both teams might feel a sense of déjà vu.
On Friday night, the Celtics beat the Magic 91-89 at Amway Center.
The Magic now have lost nine consecutive regular-season games to the Celtics.
Orlando hasn't beaten Boston since Christmas Day in 2010 and hasn't beaten Boston at TD Garden since Feb. 7, 2010.
Despite some recent down games, rookie guard Victor Oladipo continues to play confidently.
"I think that's a great thing," Vaughn said. "It's a great quality to have. One thing you have to have in this league to survive is confidence. I think that's one thing that needs to be consistent to be great at this level. You have to have confidence."
Small forward Maurice Harkless, one of Oladipo's closest friends on the team, has noticed the same quality in Oladipo.
"Being a young player, you've got to have that confidence, because there's going to be a lot of ups and downs," Harkless said. "You're going to miss shots. You're going to turn the ball over. But to be able to come out the next game and bring it at the same time, he's doing a great job of that."
Just seven games into the season, the Magic are still at a stage where one or two great or disappointing performances can shake up their rankings in several statistical categories.
That said, the Magic began Sunday ranked fourth in the NBA in defensive efficiency, limiting opponents to 95.3 points per 100 possessions.
The Magic were ranked 19th in offensive efficiency, scoring 98.9 points per 100 possessions.
An efficiency rating is a more complete way to measure a team's success on offense or defense, because the rating takes into account the pace of a game, 3-point shooting, the impact of personal fouls and free-throw shooting.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun