The Orlando Magic haven’t beaten the Charlotte Hornets in 10 games after their loss on Wednesday night, but this one was one of the closest in recent memory. In such a close game, a single bounce or shot can determine the outcome, and in this one, the Magic’s poor choices led to more of those chances going against them.
The Hornets excel at rebounding and creating turnovers, and though the Magic won the battle on the boards, they were sunk by turnovers and poor shooting.
The Hornets turned 20 Magic turnovers into 24 points, capitalizing with 14 steals specifically. Charlotte also held Orlando to 41 percent shooting, and it showed down the stretch. The Magic shot 29 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, as both teams ran out of gas, but the Hornets had built enough of a lead that it didn’t matter.
Ultimately, the game came down to the final possession, where Hornets All-Star Kemba Walker was denied at the rim, but Marvin Williams grabbed the offensive board and kicked it out to Nicolas Batum, who buried the three to put the Magic down five with less than 30 seconds left.
The Magic did a solid job containing Walker for the most part, as he finished at 6-of-19 for 20 points, but as usual, he hit the big shot when he needed to. Walker’s three put the Hornets ahead 99-97 with just over a minute left and they never looked back
“We did a good job on Kemba,” Said Magic coach Frank Vogel, “He hit a really tough shot to give them the lead late, with good defense, and that’s all you can ask of your guys is to play good defense down the stretch and try to force misses but he hit a heck of a tough shot.”
Mario Hezonja was the star of the show for Orlando, as he poured in a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double on 50 percent shooting. Mario has looked like a new player of late, averaging 17.1 points and six rebounds in the month of February.
Another positive note for Orlando was the tandem of point guards. D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack combined for 24 points and seven assists, though their five turnovers contributed to the Magic’s woes in that department.
The player of the game, however, was former Magic MVP candidate Dwight Howard, who poured in 22 and 13, including two blocks. Howard gave the Hornets a dominant presence inside and helped balance out the rebounding, which the Magic were tenacious with all night.
The Orlando Magic (18-39) will limp into the All-Star break with one of the worst records, and one of the most injury-riddled rosters in the league. Perhaps a break from the daily grind and a chance to get Nikola Vucevic, Jonathan Isaac, and Aaron Gordon back on the court will do them good.