Hornets Prepping for All-Orlando Back-to-Back

by Sam Perley
  • Charlotte Hornets (6-9) at Orlando Magic (7-9)
  • Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 at 7 PM EST (Amway Center)
  • Fox Sports Southeast, FOX Sports GO App and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM
  • Last time out: Magic won, 112-100, on Feb. 3, 2020 in Charlotte

Charlotte Looking for More Balanced Scoring Contributions

The Hornets returned from a five-day layoff on Friday night, but couldn’t ever get a handle on things on their way to a 123-110 home loss to the Chicago Bulls. Outside of Gordon Hayward’s efficient 34-point showing though, the team struggled to get consistent offensive production from its rotation; all but two of Devonte’ Graham’s season-high 24 points came in the first half, Terry Rozier had just three points heading into the fourth, the bench was outscored 46-20 and the Hornets shot 7-of-32 from three (22%). The offense could certainly find much more of a desired rhythm for 48 minutes with steadier input from across the board.

Magic Continue to Focus on Attention to Detail

Orlando swept an abbreviated season series with the Hornets last year, 2-0, while registering a staunch defensive rating of just 101.1 across the two road victories. The Magic have gone from the ninth to 18th-ranked defense between this season and last, although still remain a difficult opponent. The team generally capitalizes on doing all the little things right like not committing turnovers, rebounding effectively on both ends and controlling the tempo and pace. Coming off a sloppy performance in which they allowed 15 offensive rebounds and tallied 20 giveaways for 26 opposing points, the Hornets need to tighten up on the self-inflicted miscues.

Nikola Vučević Shining for Injury-Plagued Orlando

While the Magic are dealing with a multitude of different injuries across the roster this season, Nikola Vučević has helped pick up the slack by averaging a career-high 23.6 points on 49% shooting, 10.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. The Swiss-born Montenegrin also leads all NBA centers in nightly three-pointers (2.8) on a personal-best 42.7% efficiency as he continues to cement his reputation as one of the league’s most underrated and versatile big men. Needless to say, the Hornets frontcourt will need to make guarding the 10-year veteran a major point of emphasis on the defensive end.

Preview Quote

“We saw [Orlando] in the preseason. They’re a good defense. We have to get good shots. Our offense cost us [Friday] night with twenty turnovers. Our defense was okay for a period there, but it cost us. A lot of that had to do with Chicago and a lot of it had nothing to do with Chicago. Poor decision-making, bad passes, sloppy turnovers leading to pick-sixes the other way. If we do that again in Orlando, it’s not going to pretty. Good quality shots, don’t turn it over and hopefully we make more shots than we miss.” – Head Coach James Borrego

Final Thoughts

Charlotte and Orlando both head into this two-game series looking for some positive momentum after compiling a handful of rocky performances over the past week. It might sound simple enough, but look for the squad that plays the cleanest and minimizes mistakes the most over the 48 minutes to be the one that comes out on top tonight.

Additional Notes

F Al-Farouq Aminu (right knee injury recovery), C Mo Bamba (Health and Safety Protocols), G Markelle Fultz (torn left ACL), F Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), F Chuma Okeke (left knee bone bruise) and G Michael Carter-Williams (left foot sprain) were all out for Orlando on Friday night… Orlando has won four straight games against Charlotte after dropping the previous 13 head-to-head meetings… After starting the season 6-2, the Magic have lost seven of its last eight appearances.

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