After suffering their worst loss of the early season to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic returned to action in Charlotte to take on the Hornets on Friday night. After falling behind by 23, the Magic staged a frantic comeback to take down the Hornets 105-100.
Orlando started the game somewhat flat, allowing the Hornets to grab a quick five point lead. The Magic found some life late in the quarter, however, behind strong play from Victor Oladipo. Oladipo knocked down a jumper, and had a few strong takes to the bucket, leading to eight points in the quarter. Al Jefferson scored eight of his own for the Hornets, who carried a slim one point lead into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, the Magic looked even more sluggish, struggling on both ends of the floor. Orlando shot an absolutely dreadful 5-of-18 from the field. The Magic's offense had absolutely no flow, with many possessions ending with an isolation and poor shot because of it. Evan Fournier, who missed Wednesday night's loss with a left heel contusion, scored six in the quarter, to finish with 11 in the half to lead the way for the Magic. Jefferson continued to lead the way for the Hornets, finishing with 14 in the opening 24 minutes.
Out of halftime, the Magic were flat, missing shots, not moving the ball, or getting stops on defense. Orlando's sloppy play allowed the Hornets to push the lead to 23 points, the second time in as many games the Magic have found themselves down by over 20 in the second half. With things looking bleak, coach Jacque Vaughn had to try whatever he could. Inserting Willie Green and Ben Gordon, along with Channing Frye, Tobias Harris and Elfrid Payton, gave the Magic some life, as they cut the lead down to 15 going into the fourth quarter.
Finally with some momentum, the Magic started the fourth quarter quick. Behind Gordon and Fournier, the Magic got the Hornets lead down to single digits. With the lead within shouting distance, the Magic continued their frantic comeback with big buckets from Green and Payton helping cut the Hornets lead down to four, then two, then finally, a tie ball game. The two went back and forth for much of the final few minutes of the game.
With Payton at the free throw line, the game swung in a big way. Payton missed both shots, but the Hornets failed to box out Green, who came flying in to put the missed shot up and in. The Magic proceeded to get a key stop on the defensive end. With a two point lead and just 35 seconds remaining, Nikola Vucevic stepped to the line and calmly knocked down both free throws, giving the Magic a two possession lead. The Magic got one more key stop, and Harris knocked down two free throws to give the Magic a six point lead that would prove to be insurmountable.
A balanced effort helped the Magic forged their comeback against the Hornets. In his return to the lineup, Fournier led the way for the Magic, scoring a team high 21. Harris, who struggled from the floor, notched a double-double, finishing with 17 points and 16 rebounds, with Vucevic notching a double-double of his own, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Payton scored a career high 16 off the bench, with Gordon and Green combining for 20 in the third and fourth quarters. Victor Oladipo rounded out the Magic men in double figures, finishing with 10.
Charlotte was led by Al Jefferson, who finished with a game high 24. Gary Neal chipped in 17 off the bench, with Kemba Walker coming two assists shy of a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Lance Stephenson and Gerald Henderson rounded out the Hornets in double figures, finishing with 12 and 11 respectively.