The Magic lost another game, lost another player to injury and lost their tempers.
Already playing without Wendell Carter Jr., Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony, the Magic lost the remaining members of their usual starting unit when Mo Bamba and Jalen Suggs both checked out with 4:30 into the game and went back to the locker room with apparent ankle injuries. Suggs eventually returned, Bamba did not.
The shorthanded Magic fell behind by a wide margin early on and lost to the Hornets, 128-101, in their road final game of the season as Orlando limps towards the finish line.
Still, the Magic initially carried over their offensive rhythm from their impressive victory over the Cavs on Tuesday, shooting over 47 percent in the first quarter. That was led by Markelle Fultz, who attacked the basket and scored eight points in the quarter.
After driving the lane and banking in a runner high off the glass, Fultz followed with a reverse layup to give the Magic a 17-10 lead.
The Hornets answered with a 16-5 run to take a 26-22 lead. With the Magic trailing by five in the closing seconds of the quarter, R.J. Hampton pulled up from 30 feet and hit a three at the buzzer to pull Orlando within 30-28 heading into the second.
The Magic made just one of their first 10 shots to start the second, allowing the Hornets to pull away. Back-to-back threes by P.J. Washington and LaMelo Ball sparked a 14-0 Charlotte run that gave the Hornets a 50-30 lead with 7:11 left in the half. The lead reached 23 following a three by Terry Rozier as the Hornets scored 40 points in the quarter on 63 percent shooting.
Hampton converted his second buzzer-beater of the game when he knocked down a jumper from the free throw line as the Magic went into the half trailing 70-50. Fultz, Chuma Okeke and Moe Wagner each had 10 points at the half to lead Orlando.
Threes by Moe Wagner and Devin Cannady during an 8-0 Orlando run to open the third pulled the Magic within 70-58. But that was the closest they would get for the remainder of the evening as the Hornets quickly reestablished their 20-point lead. Charlotte maintained a comfortable advantage throughout, even as Orlando knocked down six threes and shot 54 percent in the quarter, leading 97-82 through three.
The Hornets opened the fourth on an 11-0 run to increase the lead to 108-82, highlighted by LaMelo Ball’s between-the-legs, off-the-glass alley-oop to Montrezl Harrell.
Tempers later flared after Hampton was fouled on a drive by Jalen McDaniels and took exception to it. A shoving match ensued between Robin Lopez and Harrell. Admiral Schofield then intervened and got into a shoving match of his own with Harrell, with the two having to be separated. Lopez, Schofield and Harrell were all ejected...
Robin Lopez and Admiral Schofield were deemed "escalators" and have been ejected.— Khobi Price (@khobi_price) April 8, 2022
Montrezl Harrell has also been ejected. https://t.co/9eSRA9qUhp
Lopez and Schofield waved goodbye to the Charlotte crowd as they made their exit. And that was the last of the excitement in this one as the lead grew to 35 points.
Ball finished with 26 points, nine assists and eight rebounds to lead the Hornets, which shot 52.2 percent and connected on 12 threes in 34 attempts. Rozier added 22 points and eight rebounds.
The Magic had six players in double figures, led by Okeke, who had 20 on 8-for-15 shooting (4 of 11 from three) to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Wagner added 17 points after getting the start. Fultz finished with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds in 23:37. Hampton had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Cannady and Iggy Brazdeikis each added 12 points off the bench. The Magic shot 40 percent and had 16 turnovers in what was their 60th loss of the season..
The Magic return home to close out the 2021-2022 season when they host the Miami Heat on Sunday.