The Charlotte Hornets took it to a tired Orlando Magic team as they tore them apart offensively and stifled them defensively.
Kemba Walker had a way of pulling the Orlando Magic defense apart without actually being the one doing the final damage. Whether he dropped it off, dished it back to the perimeter or led to a shot that would put the Magic out of position and set up a 3-pointer. Charlotte just had the right play, the right bounce every time.
Not that they needed the help. The Magic were a step slow the entire night. They were not able to dictate the game defensively as they had done most of the last week on this road trip.
Charlotte broke Orlando down time and time again on its way to a 109-88 win at the Spectrum Center on Friday. The Hornets torched the Magic throughout the game, breaking them down off the dribble and causing the Magic’s rotations to scramble into overdrive.
The Hornets torched the Magic throughout the game, breaking them down off the dribble and causing the Magic’s rotations to scramble into overdrive. At a certain point, it just breaks. It gives up shots at the rim with late rotations. It gives up offensive rebounds with players out of position.
Orlando did not have the energy or want to box out and finish possessions. The team could not keep pace.
And offensively, the Magic played like they were stuck. They forced shots early in the shot clock and struggled to finish around the basket again. The ball got stuck in isolations. The Magic could not get the ball moving.
Orlando shot just 37.4 percent from the floor and 9 for 34 from beyond the arc. The Magic’s shots just would not fall, even when they took good looks.
Charlotte got the ball moving and pushed the pace. Their stellar second and third quarters gave them all the distance they need. The Magic did not have another run in them as they could not pick up stops.
The Hornets shot 48.2 percent from the floor. And again Orlando gave up more than 100 points — the first time an opponent has scored 100 points in three consecutive games since the season’s first four games.
The defense has come a long way since then. But at this point, it seems to have reverted back to that primitive form. And the Magic are searching for energy to fix it again.