Hornets, Magic Meeting in Charlotte for Early MLK Day Outing

by Sam Perley

One game awaits the Charlotte Hornets before they travel to Paris this week as the Orlando Magic roll into town for an MLK Day showdown this evening starting at 5 PM EST at Spectrum Center.

This is the first meeting of the season between the two sides with Orlando winning the last two after dropping the previous 13 contests against the Hornets (Jan. 22, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2018). The Magic will be wrapping up a six-game road trip in Charlotte and although are dealing with some significant injuries at the moment, the squad is incredibly disciplined on both sides of the ball, most especially on defense.

“They’re very locked in defensively,” Coach Borrego said after Sunday’s practice. “They make very few mistakes. You’re going to have to beat them, move the ball side to side and you can’t turn it over. They do a great job protecting the paint, firing out to shooters, turning you over. We have to be smart offensively. It’s going to be about can we score, move the ball and get quality looks.”

The Magic (20-23) are 8-6 in 14 appearances since Dec. 22, raking 26th in offensive rating (106.0) and third in defensive rating (104.4) during this span. Evan Fournier is averaging a career-high 18.9 PPG (40.2% from three), Nikola Vučević is putting up 20.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 3.0 APG over his last 12 games and Markelle Fultz has continued his reclamation season with 16.7 PPG on 49.5% shooting, 6.1 RPG, 5.4 APG and 1.4 SPG over his last seven outings.

Even without lead defenders Johnathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu, Orlando has seen very little drop-off on the defensive end and does an excellent job of not committing fouls (league-low 17.8 per game) or turnovers (12.3; best in NBA as well). The Hornets need to be disruptive defensively, force turnovers and then take advantage of those extra scoring opportunities in order to snap their six-game slide.

Game Notes: Johnathan Isaac (left knee posterior lateral corner injury and medial bone contusion) Al-Farouq Aminu (torn right meniscus) and DJ Augustin (left knee bone irritation) are all out for Orlando… This will be Charlotte’s second game of the season playing on three-or-more days of rest (lost at home to Oklahoma City, 104-102, in overtime on Dec. 27).


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