Magic Beat Hornets Behind 19 Threes and Big Night From Cole Anthony
Like Sunday night, the Orlando Magic had a double-digit lead going into the fourth quarter in their rematch against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. Unlike what happened in that Sunday contest when they squandered the lead and lost on a last-second layup, on this night the Magic didn’t let their guard down and cruised to a 117-108 victory at Amway Center. Nikola Vucevic led the way with 28 points for Orlando, which drilled a season-most 19 3-pointers. Rookie Cole Anthony, meanwhile, scored a career-best 21 points.
Especially after what transpired down the stretch of Sunday’s loss, the Magic could have folded when they fell behind by 15 in the first quarter. Instead, they stayed composed and used a 20-2 run to quickly erase the deficit. It was Orlando’s bench that sparked the flurry. Dwayne Bacon scored seven of his 15 points against his former team during that stretch, Terrence Ross had all six of his then and Khem Birch connected on one of his three made shots.
He’s only 18 games into his NBA career, but already we are seeing signs that Anthony could transform into an excellent pro. The sharpest he’s looked to this point, Anthony went 8-of-12 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range en route to 21 points. The key for him as he gets more experience under his belt is shot selection and making the right reads, especially now that he’s in a starting role with Markelle Fultz out for the season.
Unlike the Magic’s last three games, all of which came down to the final possession, this one obviously didn’t feature a signature shot. But, after what occurred on Sunday, there was one particular 3-pointer the Magic made midway through the fourth that just felt significant. Orlando up seven following a Terry Rozier triple with just over six minutes left, Vucevic made a great read in the middle of Charlotte’s zone and found Gary Clark open in the left corner for one of his two 3-pointers in the period.
Speaking of 3-pointers, the Magic are blazing hot right now from deep. They made 19 threes during Monday’s win. It was only the fourth time in franchise history they connected on at least that many. It was also the Magic’s third straight game with 15 or more triples, a streak they had never previously achieved. Over their last four games, Orlando is shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc, the best mark in the league during this time.
Could at any point Vucevic and Aaron Gordon notch triple-doubles in the same game? They came close to accomplishing that on Monday. Vucevic tallied 28 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, while Gordon, who didn’t play in Sunday’s loss, registered 12 points, 11 boards and seven dimes. They each have two triple-doubles in their careers. Orlando’s ball movement as a whole has been crisp lately, which says a lot about the playmaking abilities of these two with both having to orchestrate the offense much of the time. The Magic had a season-best 31 assists on Monday and have amassed at least 26 of them in five of their last six games.
Quote of the Night
“It means a lot. I have four nieces and my god-daughter and I’m sure at least three of them, or I will be disappointed if they didn’t watch most of the game, it’s important that they see it. First of all, the first two female officials working together but also I’d like to make the point again, it’s difficult to get to that level of officiating. They’ve had to be exceptional at a lot of levels to do this. Like Vice President (Kamala) Harris, she worked her way to the top and both Jenna (Schroeder) and Natalie (Sago) did too. I think it’s a great thing for the league and I’m really happy to be part of it.” – Steve Clifford after Sago and Schroeder became the first pair of females to officiate in the same NBA game.
The Magic will look to build on this victory when they host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Kings have not played since Friday because of a pair of postponements, so they should be fresh when they walk into the Amway Center. In that Friday game, a 103-94 victory over the New York Knicks, De’Aaron Fox scored 22 points and Harrison Barnes had 21.