Shorthanded Magic Hang Tight With Hornets Before Coming Up Short

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Back and forth the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets went through the first 3 ½ quarters of Wednesday’s game at Amway Center, leading to 17 lead changes. But late in the third, it was the Hornets who gained control with 15 unanswered points before holding off the Magic in their 106-99 victory. All five Magic starters scored in double figures, including rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner, who scored 17 and 16 points, respectively. Terry Rozier led Charlotte with 27 points.

Key Stretch

Basketball is a game of runs, and the latter part of the third quarter featured two big ones. First, the Magic scored nine unanswered points to go from down three to up six. Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba each knocked down a three in that stretch. The Hornets responded with that 15-0 run, however. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored seven of his 21 points in that time.

Top Performer

Bamba recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. In his first three seasons combined, the Magic’s 7-footer had seven double-doubles. With another four 3-pointers during Wednesday’s loss, he now has made 28 this season, fifth most among starting centers.

Key Stats

Turnovers have been an issue for the Magic in the early portion of their season. That was again the case Wednesday, as they coughed it up 15 times. In transition was where Charlotte capitalized. They totaled 21 fast break points.

Injury Report

Out for Orlando were Cole Anthony (sprained right ankle), Terrence Ross (lower back spasms), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee) and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain). For Charlotte, Vernon Carey Jr. (G League – On Assignment), Arnoldas Kulboka (G League – Two Way), Scottie Lewis (G League – Two Way), and JT Thor (G League – On Assignment) were unavailable.

Rivals Report

They showed glimpses of their potential last season, reaching the play-in tournament, and now the Hornets, winners of seven of their last eight, look like they have taken a giant step forward. Other than Stephen Curry, is there a point guard playing better than LaMelo Ball right now? Last five games he’s averaging 21.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists, although he is shooting just 38.3 percent from the field during this stretch. He’s been getting a ton of help, too, especially from Miles Bridges, arguably the early-season frontrunner for the league’s Most Improved Player award.

Quote of the Night

“I think we were trying to do the right things by getting in the lane and looking to find open shooters. But just a lot of live-ball turnovers…This team (the Hornets), they are young, they want to fly up and down the court. It was just a matter of trying to make a stand, trying to execute, (and) trying to have our offense help our defense.” – Bamba

This Day in History

One of Nick Anderson’s best games of his career came on Nov. 24, 1995 when he erupted for 34 points to lead the Magic to a victory over the Timberwolves. Penny Hardaway flirted with a triple-double that night with 22 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists. Tom Gugliotta and Isaiah Rider led Minnesota with 29 points apiece. Kevin Garnett, just a rookie that season, made one basket in this game.

Up Next

The highly anticipated return to Orlando for two-time NBA All-Star Nikola Vucevic happens Friday with his Chicago Bulls in town. Vucevic, traded to the Bulls at the deadline last season, was back in action Wednesday against the Rockets after missing the previous seven games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The 12-6 Bulls have been led by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, both averaging over 25 points per game entering Wednesday’s action.

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