Things could not have gone worse for the Orlando Magic offense on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte once again blew the Magic out, winning by 32, 120-88.
The Magic were ice cold from the field from the tip, missing seemingly everything they threw up early. As the shots continued to clank off the rim, the shot selection got worse and worse, with guys forcing shots up from mid-range, and failing to get into the paint to open up quality looks from beyond the arc.
Despite the poor shooting, defensively the Magic were active in the early minutes, forcing the Hornets into equally poor shots, and swarming on seemingly every action they ran. That didn’t last long, however, with the poor offensive play slowly leaking into the defense, with the team clearly becoming frustrated with the lack of shots that were falling.
Orlando’s poor shooting — they shot 28.6 percent from the field in the half— led to the Hornets pushing their lead to 20 at the half, 51-31. The 31 points were four shy of the Magic’s franchise record for fewest of 27 points, which they did twice: 12/25/2012 against the Boston Celtics, and 1/24/2005 against the Houston Rockets.
Moreover, the Magic’s soft pick-and-roll coverage quickly backfired, allowing All-Star Kemba Walker to heat up. Orlando’s big man would stay back on the action, allowing Walker to have room to negotiate and get to his spots and see shots, which weren’t falling in the early portion of the game, begin to fall.
The second half saw the Magic slowly start shooting the ball better, with Evan Fournier knocking down a pair of three-pointers early in the half, but Charlotte was just too much, piling it on the Magic every chance they got.
Charlotte picked apart the Magic’s defense on almost every possession, getting the shots that they wanted on almost every trip. Whenever the Magic would string together a few made baskets and cut into the lead, Charlotte would answer and push it right back up over the 20 point threshold.
A ferocious dunk between Aaron Gordon and Mohamed Bamba by Cody Zeller in the third quarter put the exclamation point on the night for the Hornets.
The fourth quarter was no better for the Magic, with Charlotte continuing to pour it on from everywhere, leading to coach Steve Clifford to empty his bench with 10 minutes to go, waiving the white flag on the night.
With their dominating performance, Charlotte pushed their winning streak over the struggling Magic to 12 straight, the most consecutive games either team has won in their series.