Back on Oct. 28, the Orlando Magic blew out the Charlotte Hornets at Amway Center. On Monday, in the sixth game of the Magic’s seven-game homestand, it was the Hornets who jumped out to a big lead before warding off Orlando down the stretch in their 112-105 victory.
Just as he did the last time the Hornets were in town, Mo Bamba had a strong game with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was his first double-double of the season and 28th of his NBA career. Franz Wagner, meanwhile, led Orlando with 23 points, while Wendell Carter Jr. scored 20 and Bol Bol recorded 14 points and nine rebounds.
After a pair of Chuma Okeke 3-pointers and a Bol pull-up jumper cut Charlotte’s lead to nine with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter, the Hornets responded with an 8-2 run. LaMelo Ball, playing in his second game after returning from an ankle injury, connected on a floater to conclude the flurry.
Orlando’s worst games of the year have come when they don’t take care of the ball. That was the case Monday, as they coughed it up 22 times, which led to 21 of Charlotte’s points. The Hornets, who led from start to finish and by as many as 19, outscored the Magic by 24 in the paint. They also had a season-high 15 steals.
By making a 3-pointer Monday, Terrence Ross passed Rashard Lewis for sixth place on the Magic’s all-time made threes list. Ahead of him are Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson, Evan Fournier, Jameer Nelson, and Hedo Turkoglu.
Paolo Banchero (sprained left ankle), Cole Anthony (right internal oblique muscle injury), Markelle Fultz (toe), Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot), Gary Harris (left knee rehabilitation), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) were out for the Magic. Gordon Hayward (shoulder), Dennis Smith Jr, (ankle) and Cody Martin (knee) were unavailable for the Hornets.
This Day in History
One of the wilder regular season games in Magic history came on Nov. 14, 2007 against the Cavs. With Orlando down one in the closing seconds of overtime, Dwight Howard was fouled by Drew Gooden. To complete his 35-point performance, he knocked down both free throws to lift Orlando to the win. Ironically enough, LeBron James, who had a triple-double with 39 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists, tied the game in the final seconds of regulation with three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt.
With Ball back, now we will be able to properly assess the Hornets, who entered Monday’s action tied for last place in the Eastern Conference with the Pistons. Steve Clifford-led teams, as Magic fans are aware of, tend to finish seasons strong, so expect them to make gradual progress. While Terry Rozier, Hayward, and Kelly Oubre Jr. are all very good players, Charlotte is missing a major scoring threat. They just don’t have anyone they can rely on to get them a bucket in big spots.
The Magic’s seven-game homestand concludes Wednesday when the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The T-Wolves have been one of the league’s most disappointing teams early in the year. While way too soon to come to any conclusions, the Karl-Anthony Towns-Rudy Gobert pairing hasn’t gone as hoped for Minnesota. They also haven’t gotten the massive leap many expected from Anthony Edwards, who is averaging fewer points and shooting a worse 3-point percentage than last year. They will arrive in Orlando coming off a win, however, as they rolled past the Cavs in Cleveland on Sunday.