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Hornets swarm Magic late, win 99-97

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A slow start and a poor finish doomed the Magic on Monday night.

Elfrid Payton
Elfrid Payton
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

After opening the preseason with a pair of victories last week against the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, the Orlando Magic made a trip to Charlotte to take on the newly rebranded Hornets. Unlike their first two games, the Magic were unable to come out on top, falling to the Hornets 99-97.

Much like their first two preseason games, big man Nikola Vucevic and forward Tobias Harris came out and got the Magic going early. However, despite grabbing a five point lead early, the Magic struggled much of the first quarter, allowing the Hornets to shoot a scorching 62.5% from the field. Getting his first start of the preseason, rookie point guard Elfrid Payton led the Magic early, scoring seven points early.

For the second straight game, the Magic found themselves down double figures going into the second quarter. However, unlike Friday night in Indiana, the team was unable to storm back and grab the lead. With the half winding down, Kyle O'Quinn blocked two shots, helping the Magic cut the deficit to 57-50 heading into halftime.

Out of the halftime break, the Magic began whittling their way back into it. Behind two three-pointers by Aaron Gordon, and five more points from Ben Gordon, the Magic found themselves grabbing their first lead since being up 10-12 early in the first quarter. Thanks to 13 a piece from Harris and Ben Gordon, the Magic found themselves holding a 78-73 lead heading into the final 12 minutes of action.

In the final quarter of action, the Hornets unleashed their secret weapon: noted Magic killer Jannero Pargo. Thanks to a 16 point quarter from Pargo and poor shooting from the Magic, the Hornets were able to comeback and win.

The Magic were led by Ben Gordon's 17 off the bench. Both Harris and Payton finished the nigh with 14, with Payton adding six rebounds and five assists. Nikola Vucevic rounded out the Magic men in double figures, scoring 10 points on the night.

Charlotte was led by big man Al Jefferson, who finished with a game high 20 points in 30 minutes of action. Pargo's 16 in the final quarter were closely followed by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's 14. Guards Kemba Walker and Gary Neal rounded out the Hornets in double figures, finishing with 11 and 10 respectively.