“Momma said there would be days like this”.
For the Orlando Magic, one of the youngest teams in the NBA who were once again playing without two of their primary ball-handlers, ‘that kind of day’ happened Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets. Orlando’s Southeast Division foes were the more aggressive team all night, defeating the Magic 112-105.
For seemingly the first time this season, Orlando’s young players appeared to lack the energy and effort they’ve consistently played with throughout the early part of the 2022-23 NBA season.
The Hornets were able to build an early double-digit lead over the Magic thanks largely to an issue that has been plaguing Orlando throughout the season - turnovers. The home team turned the ball over six times in the opening period, which led to nine Charlotte points.
Orlando also struggled early to keep Charlotte off the offensive glass, conceding six offensive rebounds to Hornets big men (Mason Plumlee, P.J. Washington, and Nick Richards) in the first, which led to 11 of the Hornets’ 31 points through the game’s first twelve minutes.
Reserve center Mo Bamba, who scored a season-high 19 points against the Hornets on October 28th, was ready again when his number was called against his former head coach’s team. The fifth-year center made his first five field goal attempts in the first half, scoring all 14 of his points prior to intermission.
Live-ball turnovers continued to be a problem for the Magic in the second quarter, as the Hornets led by as many as 16 points.
Charlotte’s starters were able to establish themselves in the first half, with four of their starting five scoring in double-figures (Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., Plumlee, and Washington).
The Hornets netted eight of the first ten points scored in the second half, which forced Mosley to opt for a timeout just three minutes into the third quarter.
When the Magic returned to the floor with just over nine minutes remaining in the third, Mosley had replaced all five of his starters with a completely new unit. Orlando’s bench provided a momentary spark, going on a 9-2 run (which forced Charlotte to call timeout and re-group).
The effort picked up in the second half when Orlando’s starters were abruptly taken out, but the execution wasn’t exactly up to par. The Magic shot 29.6 percent (8-27 FGA’s) in the third quarter, and they trailed the Hornets by 15 heading into the final period.
Following an early fourth quarter Charlotte timeout, Orlando went on a 12-3 run fueled by Bol Bol and Chuma Okeke - who combined to knock down four consecutive three-point field goal attempts - and again the Hornets called a timeout.
At that point, with just over seven minutes remaining in the contest, the Magic had cut Charlotte’s lead down to just nine points.
Unfortunately for Orlando, a three-possession game would be as close as they would get on the sixth-night of their seven game homestand.
Magic second-year guard Jalen Suggs struggled mightily against Charlotte, finishing the game with 2 points (1-10 FGA’s), 6 assists, 5 turnovers, and 6 fouls in 28 minutes.
Charlotte, who boasted a balanced attack all evening, had seven players finish in double-figures, led by LaMelo Ball’s 17 points and 9 assists. Plumlee finished with a double-double (18 points and 11 rebounds), and Theo Maledon was perfect from the field off the Hornets bench (4-4 FGA’s, 14 points).
The Magic defeated the Hornets at home 113-93 on October 28th, but Charlotte was playing without Ball and Rozier then. Monday’s win snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Hornets.
Franz Wagner led the way for the Magic with 23 points and 6 rebounds. Wendell Carter Jr. added 20 points (5-8 FGA’s, 3-4 3PTA’s, 7-10 FTA’s).
Orlando’s season-long seven-game homestand will come to a close Wednesday night against Minnesota. With wins already in the bag against the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, and Phoenix Suns over this stretch, the Magic can make it a positive homestand with another big win against the Timberwolves.