Orlando Magic Grades: Charlotte Hornets 107, Orlando Magic 104

Nikola Vucevic struggled to get himself going in the post as the Orlando Magic fell to the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Nikola Vucevic struggled to get himself going in the post as the Orlando Magic fell to the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

38. Final. 107. 170. 104

Even though the Orlando Magic were without Aaron Gordon due to back and hip soreness, they were hoping to secure a win against the Charlotte Hornets and start off their four-game homestand strong.

Similar to Friday’s game against Indiana Pacers, the Orlando Magic found confidence in their offense led by Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic but were unable to see the game through.

The Magic led the Hornets in the first three quarters and had a 12-point lead entering the final frame. But Charlotte outscored Orlando 33-18 in the fourth quarter, including 22-4 to start. Gordon Hayward scored 12 of the 33 points.

He ultimately torched the Magic’s defense and finished with 39 points, including the game-winning layup with 0.7 seconds left after Terrence Ross tied the game on a corner three to nearly save the Magic from collapse.

The Orlando Magic succumbed to a poor-shooting fourth quarter, giving away a late lead in a loss to the division-rival Charlotte Hornets.

From the start, the Magic shot well from three ending the first half with 10 made threes on 21 attempts. Cole Anthony, Gary Clark and Jordan Bone combined for eight made threes which fueled a promising offense.

But when it came to the fourth quarter, the Magic seemed to be startled by the sudden intensification of the Hornets’ defense.

The Hornets played zone for the majority of the game and simply amped up the intensity in the fourth quarter which caused the Magic to lose the ball on key possessions.

The Magic were leading by 12 points going into the fourth with all the confidence in the world which ultimately led to a slew of sloppy plays.

In the first two minutes of the quarter, the Magic picked up three fouls and forfeited their 12-point lead. Four minutes in, the Magic were up 86- 83 when Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, who were previously one for nine from the field at halftime, began to hit shots.

Going into the game, the Hornets were fourth in the league in steals and ranked third in points scored off turnovers. It was imperative the Magic take care of the ball, especially during the Hornets’ fourth-quarter revival.

The Magic coughed up the ball 15 times and in turn, the Hornets capitalized and scored 17 points off of those turnovers.

While the Magic did manage to claw their way back from a nine-point deficit capped off with a ridiculous three from Ross, Hayward was able to be the final hero, getting past Fournier for the game-winning layup. Cole Anthony was hit with a five-second violation on an inbounds pass with 0.7 seconds left on the clock which ultimately cost them the game.

This was a disappointing loss of the Magic, especially after losing to the Pacers in a similar fashion.

Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY. B-. . PG

While Cole Anthony was not able to inbound the ball with the game on the line which resulted in a costly turnover, he still had a solid game. Anthony finished with 14 points, six assists and grabbed five rebounds, two of them being offensive rebounds.

Anthony also showed improved confidence in his three-point shooting as he finished two of four behind the arc. His three-point attempts were smart and in rhythm which was promising to see.

Additionally, in what is slowly becoming a niche skill for Anthony, his offensive rebounding has steadily become an unexpected tool. Using his athleticism, Anthony is able to outrebound far larger guards and sometimes centers in an attempt to earn his team a second chance.

Overall, not bad. If Anthony continues to develop at this pace, the Magic will have themselves a young promising point guard to pair with Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz.

GARY CLARK. A. . F. Orlando Magic

With Aaron Gordon out, Gary Clark started at the four and performed quite well. Gary Clark finished with 14 points and shot four of seven from the three-point line. Prior to this game, Clark had been very hesitant to shoot from three which limited his ability to impact the game as a potential stretch four.

While the Magic lost the game, Clark’s performance should be a promising sight for the Magic coaching staff and a boost of confidence for Clark himself. Along with his best shooting night of the season, Clark made several hustle plays which allowed the Magic to hold onto their early lead.

If Gary Clark continues to play at this level, coach Steve Clifford would be granted the flexibility to shift Clark around in different rotations which would help immensely, especially when Vucevic is off the floor.

JAMES ENNIS III. B+. . F. Orlando Magic

In his 21 minutes on the floor, James Ennis posted a team-high plus/minus of +10. He filled the stat sheet with eight points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

Despite Gordon Hayward finishing with 39 points, James Ennis was the Orlando Magic’s best hope of stopping Hayward. His physical defense initially frustrated Hayward which allowed the Magic to punish the Hornet’s abysmal first-half shooting.

Ennis’ presence anchors the Magic’s perimeter defense and allows players like Nikola Vucevic and Khem Birch to trust that opposing players aren’t just going to walk into the paint.

The Magic will need Ennis to play as he did against the Indiana Pacers and the HChharlotte ornets if they hope to bounce back from their 1-4 road trip.

B-. . C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC

Nikola Vucevic once again posted a respectable stat line. Vucevic posted 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. However, he did so on 9-for-22 shooting.

Vucevic was not quite able to punish the Hornets shallow center rotation. While Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller are NBA centers, Nikola Vucevic has had tougher competition. But Biyombo was able to disrupt Vucevic in the post and played solid defense on the All-Star center.

Vucevic also only went two for five from behind the arc and was only able to convert one of his signature trailing three-pointers.

With the Magic’s second game against the Hornets just around the corner, Vucevic will need to shoot better and defend the paint better in order to secure a win against the now 7-9 Hornets.

. 7-9. 11th East. CHARLOTTE HORNETS. C

The Charlotte Hornets just managed to get away with this win. While LaMelo ball played well, two of the Hornets’ other guards in Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham went cold. Rozier and Graham combined for 22 points and shot 29.1-percent from the field. If it were not for another monster night from Gordon Hayward, the Hornets would have lost the game.

Despite the fact Graham and Rozier remained largely ineffective for the first three quarters, Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball continue to lead the Hornets’ bench. After a two-point game against the Chicago Bulls, Bridges finished with 18 points, six rebounds and two steals. Ball tallied 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

In order for the Hornets to move up in the east, they must capitalize on their strengths and not rely on flipping the switch in the fourth. Better teams will be able to punish the young Hornets team if they continue to rely on this strategy.

dark. Next. Orlando Magic's free throw progress has halted

The Magic are now 7-10 and 12th in the Eastern Conference. The Orlando Magic will play their second game against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday and will host the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday and Friday respectively.