Coming off a loss to the division rival Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic returned home to finish out the season series against another division rival, the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets got things going early, and all but cruised to an easy victory over the Magic, 98-83.
Early on, things were shaky for the Magic. As has been the case much of the season, the team came out flat on the defensive end, with the Hornets getting easy buckets throughout much of the quarter. However, as the quarter wore on, and their bench began to trickle into the game, the Magic's defense improved. They took excellent care of the ball, not turning it over once in the opening period. Former Western Conference Player of the Week Mo Williams led the way for the Hornets, finishing with nine in the quarter, with Tobias Harris' eight leading the Magic.
Following a solid quarter offensively on both ends, things began to fall apart in the second. Each team had stretches of stagnant play, and each missed their fair share of wide open shots. Orlando's second unit, led by Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson, gave the Magic good minutes, helping them take their first lead early in the quarter. Harkless, getting playing time due to injuries to both Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, gave the team a lot of energy, crashing the boards and defending at a high level. Harris led the way for everyone at the half, scoring 12 points in the first 24 minutes. Williams' nine continued to lead the way at the half, as they held a slim one point lead.
Out of halftime, things went downhill and fast for the Magic. Charlotte, after struggling to get anything going in the second quarter, was an offensive juggernaut, making 12 of their first 17 shots in the quarter. Charlotte's strong quarter, coupled with the struggles for the Magic, helped aid the Hornets in pushing their lead to a game high 15 late in the quarter. The Magic made a mini run of their own late, however, cutting the lead down to four heading into the final 12 minutes. Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 19 through three, with Williams' 15 pacing the way for the Hornets.
With the second unit in the game, the Magic began to make a run early in the final quarter. The reserves brought a lot of energy on the defensive end, cutting the Hornets lead down to four. However, the team began to struggle on the offensive end once again, allowing the Hornets to push their lead back up to 12. The Magic cut the lead down to nine briefly, before a three by Williams pushed it back to 12, all but ending the game.
Charlotte was led by Williams, who finished with a game high 23 points and 11 assists. Gerald Henderson and Cody Zeller both finished with 16, with Zeller adding eight rebounds. Al Jefferson notched a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finishing with an 11-point, 13-rebound double-double of his own.
Five Magic men finished in double figures, led by Oladipo's 21. Tobias Harris added 13 points and eight rebounds, with Andrew Nicholson and Willie Green scoring 11 apiece off the bench. Nikola Vucevic salvaged his streak of double digit scoring games late, finishing with 10.