Recap: Hornets 97, Magic 94

December 26, 2012

There’s no question that the Orlando Magic have exceeded expectations this season. They’ve fought hard nearly every night, been in close games with tough opponents and earned victories that few thought were possible.

However, one preseason prophecy still reigns true: Orlando’s margin of error is extremely thin this season.

For teams without a superstar, high energy and great defensive efforts are always necessary staples. And when you add injuries into that mix, mistakes and defensive letdowns simply can’t happen.

Already without Hedo Turkoglu (hand) and Al Harrington (knee), the Magic’s margin of error became even narrower once Glen Davis (shoulder) went down. And currently, Orlando is struggling to adjust.

The Magic were in the middle of a red-hot four-game winning streak when Big Baby was injured and have since dropped three straight games, the latest being Wednesday’s 97-94 home loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

“I think it’s evident,” said Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn when asked if Davis’ absence is hurting the team. “My immediate answer would be he’s usually in at the end of the games to finish and usually we have a package of plays at the end of the game that we’re pretty comfortable with and you see we’ve had to go by other means of scoring and we had to play small again tonight and mix and match some things that we didn’t have to do before Glen got hurt.”

Davis’ interior presence would have been helpful against the Hornets as Robin Lopez torched the Magic on the inside, going 9-for-10 from the field on his way to 29 points.

“It wasn’t our normal defensive effort tonight,” Vaughn added. “Lopez got away from us at the beginning of the game and got into a great rhythm.”

In addition to getting back to their normal brand of defense, the Magic are going to have to continue to develop as a unit with Davis out of the lineup.

“I think we have to get better with Baby out,” “We were playing well, Baby got hurt and we have to figure out how to get better with him out for an extended period of time.”

One of the answers to that equation could be Turkoglu, who’s nearly ready to make his return to the court.

"This game was a little different. We just couldn't get stops. I think they shot 50 percent or something like that, so we can't have that. We're not a team that's going to outscore you. We have to get stops and that's what we've been doing while we've been playing well and tonight, we didn't do that and they beat us." - Nikola Vucevic.
This Statline of the Night goes to Jameer Nelson. One of the few bright spots in the loss was the play of the Magic's point guard, who tallied 28 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. He was an efficient 11-for-17 from the floor and 4-for-8 from long range.
Photo courtesy of Fernando Medina. | Photo Gallery

Follow Dan Savage on Twitter here