Don’t look now, but the Orlando Magic are poised to put together their first winning streak in two months as they face the Charlotte Hornets on Friday at the Amway Center.
At 24-52, “tanker” enthusiasts are crying to halt the newfound success the Magic enjoyed against both the Knicks and Mavericks. Their most recent victory moved them from fourth to fifth in the lottery odds, and continuing to do so could move them as far as ninth.
But “culture” enthusiasts will cry to push on, and build upon what the Magic could potentially be starting here. Vogel often preached how the end of the 2016-17 season bred the early 8-4 start before injuries derailed any thought of long term success.
If the Magic seek to try that pattern again, a victory tonight followed by monumental upsets of the Raptors, Bucks and Wizards could do just that.
But first thing is first. The Charlotte Hornets at 34-45, 10th in the East, come in losers of four straight. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s already happened back on February 15th, when they edged the Magic, 104-102, behind Dwight Howard’s 22 points and 13 rebounds. Mario Hezonja kept pace as best he could with 21 and 10, but ultimately fell short in the final minute.
The Hornets have taken all three games against the Magic this season, but things could be different this time, as Kemba Walker has been struggling greatly of late, scoring just 8.6 points in his previous three games.
One up and comer to look out for is Malik Monk, who has made up for Kemba’s deficiencies with 18 ppg in the past three.
The Magic will once again limp into the Amway down Jonathon Simmons, Terrence Ross, Jonathan Isaac, and Evan Fournier. The status of Nikola Vucevic (rest), remains to be seen.
On their injury report released minutes ago, the Magic have listed Jonathan Isaac (left ankle sprain), Jonathon Simmons (right wrist contusion), Evan Fournier (left knee sprain) and Terrence Ross (bone bruise) as out for Friday night's game against the Hornets at Amway Center.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) April 5, 2018
The Charlotte Hornets will be missing their own set of contributors, but we are still awaiting news on Nicolas Batum (Achilles), who was held out of Wednesday’s contest.
The Hornets are a perfectly mediocre 15th and 17th in offensive and defensive rating, they are 8th in pace, and have allowed 118.4 points in their past five games.
The Orlando Magic will look to continue developing Aaron Gordon, Wesley Iwundu, Khem Birch, and Jamel Artis, who scored a combined 34 points in his previous two games, including a career high of 18 against the Mavericks.
Will the Magic be able to hold off Dwight Howard, Marvin Williams, Kemba and the rest of the our southeastern neighbors?