Orlando Magic Grades: Charlotte Hornets 122, Orlando Magic 112

Cole Anthony continued to show impressive patience as the Orlando Magic fought hard against the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports
Cole Anthony continued to show impressive patience as the Orlando Magic fought hard against the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports /

38. 122. 170. Final. 112

The Orlando Magic were never going to quit. They made that pretty clear throughout their game against the Charlotte Hornets.

With their halftime lead gone and the Hornets starting to pull away in the fourth quarter up by eight, Cole Anthony checked back into the game as the Magic reloaded with their starters.

Anthony did what he does and stepped up to the plate. He stripped P.J. Washington and raced down to the other end on a two-on-two fast break. R.J. Hampton flared to the corner, but Cole Anthony had his eyes on the rim.

At the last second and with Bismack Biyombo closing in on him, Cole Anthony rose up and jammed it with one hand over the former Magic big man.

On the next possession, Anthony isolated Biyombo and got him on his island, rocking him to sleep before draining a jumper over him. It looked like the Magic were going to make one final push to get back in the game.

The team just could not get the stops to make it happen in the end.

LaMelo Ball made a living driving through the middle of the lane and finishing at the rim or dishing out to the perimeter or dumping it down to players like Bismack Biyombo. Orlando was chasing him the entire night.

Their offense was inconsistent from that point on, unable to get organized and moving to create open shots or opportunities to get to the foul line to buoy the team through some shooting struggles. Anthony tried a bit too hard to carry the team and ended up hoisting a lot of contested shots and isolations as the Magic never could get all the way over the hump.

The Hornets were able to shoot their way to a 122-112 win as they limited their turnovers and just made their living in the paint in the second half.

In all, Charlotte scored 62 points in the second half, shooting 53.3-percent from the floor with 38 of their 68 points in the paint for the game.

Orlando used its defense in the first half to force turnovers and get out in transition. That helped the team stake the lead. But when that dried up, the Magic struggled to get their offense moving.

The Hornets opted to switch screens in the second half and that made it even more difficult for the Magic to get organized and moving. Orlando looked every bit a team that has not played together a whole lot on both ends as players were constantly pointing at each other and trying to get themselves moving.

If that is why the Magic are losing games, they might have to live with that the rest of the season.

. PG. Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY. B

Cole Anthony definitely seemed up for the game being back in North Carolina and going up against a rookie of the year frontrunner in LaMelo Ball. He seemed like he had a lot to prove. And there were plenty of moments where he was certainly trying to do a bit too much. Even then, Anthony seemed to be thinking through how to get his teammates involved and how to pick his spots.

Anthony scored 22 points, with 12 in the second half, making 7 of 15 for the game and six of six from the foul line. He got all six of those in the first half as his ability to get into the paint and draw contact was a key part of the Magic keeping their offense afloat. He also had six rebounds. His defense was OK as the Magic tried to duck under screens to force LaMelo Ball to shoot. But Ball still got into the paint far too often.

. G. Orlando Magic. R.J. HAMPTON. A

R.J. Hampton continues to be an absolute revelation for the team every night. It is clear how much just playing and having a bit of comfort and freedom have helped him really blossom. The game is slowing down for him and that makes him even more dangerous as he is so quick off the bounce. In transition, it does not feel like anyone can slow him down. But more impressively, he is able to slow down for a beat and feed passes off the dribble.

Hampton finished with 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting, adding five rebounds and three assists. He made plenty of other hustle plays too throughout the game and coach Steve Clifford is trusting him more and more defensively. It would have been interesting to see him get a turn on LaMelo Ball (but that never really happened).

Hampton’s game slowed down in the second half as the Magic struggled to get out in transition. That is still where he is most effective.

Orlando Magic. DWAYNE BACON. A. . G/F

Dwayne Bacon helped set the tone for the Orlando Magic throughout the game and especially early with his shotmaking ability. Orlando does not have a lot of bucket-getters and so Bacon’s ability to force his way through the lane and create for himself is at least something the Magic can use for as much as they can.

Bacon scored 10 quick points in the first quarter to keep the Magic in the game. He finished with a career-high 26 points on 8-for-18 shooting with 8-for-10 shooting from the foul line. Surprisingly, coach Steve Clifford highlighted Dwayne Bacon’s defensive improvement this season and highlighted his defense on P.J. Washington after Washington got going from deep early.

F/C. Orlando Magic. MORITZ WAGNER. C.

Moritz Wagner has looked fairly comfortable in his first few games with the Orlando Magic. He has stepped out and hit from deep effectively and has held his own defensively within the team’s schemes. It felt like this was a decent fit even as Wagner was trying to find his fit. This was really the first time he looked uncomfortable and unsure of where he was supposed to be.

Wagner scored six points on 3-for-8 shooting. But his defense left a lot to be desired. He was slow to rotate over on screen and rolls and often got caught in the wrong spot with players pointing for him to be somewhere else or cover someone. The communication was poor as was the execution.

B. . 33-34. 8th East. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

The Charlotte Hornets leaned pretty heavily on rookie LaMelo Ball to get themselves going. Luckily for them, the kid was up to the task. Ball scored 27 points on 11-for-22 shooting with six assists and six rebounds. He made a living driving right into the middle of the lane as the Orlando Magic struggled to rotate over and cut off the penetration. He just made a living in the middle of the paint.

The Hornets defense was not much to talk about. But they put pressure on the Magic’s ballhandlers and were able to disrupt their rhythm long enough. They just got whatever they wanted as Terry Rozier had 28 points and the Hornets picked up 11 offensive rebounds for XX second-chance points.

Next. Markelle Fultz's recovery is part of Orlando Magic's future. dark

The Magic fall to 21-46, 13th in the Eastern Conference and tied for the fourth-best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery with five games remaining.

The Magic can no longer finish with the seventh-best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery.  The Orlando Magic will be eliminated from receiving the worst record in the league with one more win or one more Houston Rockets loss. They will be eliminated from receiving the best odds to win the Lottery with five more wins or five more Minnesota Timberwolves or Detroit Pistons losses.

The Magic return home Sunday for their final home game of the season against the Timberwolves.