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Charlotte Hornets 104, Orlando Magic 94: Free-throw disparity and costly turnovers haunt the Magic

The Magic dropped the second game of a Sunday-Monday back-to-back in the Queen City.

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Magic have been one of the worst teams in the NBA at getting to the free-throw line since their former franchise center Dwight Howard departed town six seasons ago. Howard’s current team, the Charlotte Hornets, are the NBA’s most prolific team at getting to the line this season.

These two truths played out significantly Monday night in Charlotte, and the Magic dropped the second game of their Sunday-Monday back-to-back to the Hornets 104-94.

Free-throw disparity, costly turnovers, and opponent offensive rebounds (11 Charlotte offensive rebounds). These factors have plagued the Magic during their downward slide, and they once again surfaced to hurt the Magic throughout the contest.

Orlando played solidly out of the gate. Through the first half of the first quarter, the Magic looked like the rested team that hadn’t played since Friday. The Hornets wings had a lot of trouble keeping Jonathon Simmons in front of them. Simmons had a quarter-high 11 points.

The pace of the game changed for the Magic slightly after a Dwight Howard elbow connected with Elfrid Payton, knocking him to the floor. Howard was charged with a flagrant-1 foul.

Charlotte closed the quarter strong on a 10-2 run, feeding off six Magic turnovers, and finished with a 26-23 first quarter lead.

However, Orlando’s second unit opened up the second quarter on an 11-0 run. The burst was short-lived; the Hornets burned a timeout and regained the lead from the Magic after an 11-2 run of their own. After containing him in the first, Kemba Walker got loose in the second quarter to the tune of eight points in the period. Again, Orlando closed the quarter sloppily. Seven more careless turnovers in the quarter brought the Magic to a total of 13 in the first half. The Hornets led the Magic 54-45 at the break.

Evan Fournier got hot (12 in the quarter) in the third, and led an offensive surge out of the break that saw the Magic connect on their first five three-point attempts. But Orlando couldn’t cut into Charlotte’s lead. Defensive rebounding started to become a problem for the Magic in the second half, and the Hornets pushed their lead to double-digits.

The Magic closed a quarter strong for the first time in the contest (11-1 run to end the third), and had sliced Charlotte’s lead down to one heading into the fourth quarter.

The turning point in the contest came with 9:16 left in the game, when Frank Kaminsky converted a dunk, and Marreese Speights simultaneously picked up a flagrant-1 foul on Cody Zeller. Within a minute, the Hornets extended their lead back to nine points.

A Dwight Howard 20-foot jumper put Charlotte up by 12 with just under four minutes to play, and that was about it for this one.

The Hornets, who only connected on three three-point attempts (3-17) in the contest, marched to the line 40 times. Kemba Walker, who finished with a game-high 29 points, went 14-14 from the charity stripe.

The Magic suffered greatly from a free-throw disparity of 40 (33-40) attempts to 14 (12-14) attempts in this contest.

Orlando also turned the ball over 20 times Monday night, which led to 29 Charlotte points.

Six Magic players finished the game in double figures, led by Evan Fournier’s 18 points. Jonathon Simmons, who led the Magic with 13 points in the first half, was quiet in the second half (finished with 15 points, and 4 costly turnovers).

D.J. Augustin contributed 13 points (in 16 minutes) off the bench.

The Magic will be back in action Wednesday night in the Amway Center against the Atlanta Hawks.