Orlando Magic Grades: Just one more game to go…

The Orlando Magic had some fight in them but fell well short of the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic had some fight in them but fell well short of the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

101. 38. 128. 170. Final

The Charlotte Hornets were able to do whatever they wanted all night against the Orlando Magic.

That is just the reality of these end-of-season games. The attention to detail and defensive intensity were not there for most of the game. And that is where the Charlotte Hornets live.

They built a 20-point lead by turning the Magic over throughout the second quarter. They rebuilt their lead, capping it off with LaMelo Ball getting a steal and throwing the ball between his legs off the backboard to Montrezl Harrell trailing. Ball capped off the run with a three in transition.

The Magic were not playing with much attention to detail. They missed enough shots to fall behind and the rest was fundamental in a 128-101 loss to the Hornets at Spectrum Center.

The Orlando Magic lost their penultimate game as the Charlotte Hornets did what they wanted against a Magic team struggling with injuries and a lack of depth.

Orlando does not stop fighting. Only this time, they took that a bit too literally.

With about six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, tempers finally boiled over for the team. R.J. Hampton had been jawing with players for a while and he took exception to Jalen McDaniels wrapping him up for a foul. The two were slow to separate.

That is when Robin Lopez ran in to play peacemaker and try to separate the two. Then Montrezl Harrell ran in to stand up for his teammate. Lopez started jawing at Harrell. That is when Admiral Schofield jumped in and both teams needed to be separated, with Jamahl Mosley doing some heavy lifting to keep his guys away from everyone else.

Lopez, Harrell and Schofield all ended up getting ejected for escalating the situation. And that was about the only excitement the second half provided for the game.

The Magic have just one more game left this season and it feels like it with how the team has started to wrap things up.

If there was a positive for the game from the Magic, it was that Markelle Fultz controlled the pace of the game well and kept the Magic in the fight in his nearly 24 minutes. The whole starting group especially with Jalen Suggs and Chuma Okeke joining Markelle Fultz on the floor played well together.

But how much is anyone going to learn from these games and these minutes? The game got out of hand quickly in the first half once Fultz left the game and it was never really close, save for an 8-0 run to start the third that cut the deficit down to 12.

Player Grades

Markelle Fultz – B

The Orlando Magic were at their best with Markelle Fultz in control. He was pushing the pace and probing the lane, finishing with creativity and at times physicality. Fultz was doing everything for the Magic.

His scoring numbers feel regular for a guy who is maybe just now playing three-quarters of the minutes he would be playing without a minute restriction. Fultz had 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting with six assists.

His only blemish was four turnovers. That was an unfortunately common thing for the Magic throughout the game. Charlotte had 15 points off 16 Orlando turnovers and finished the game with 27 fast-break points.

Fultz was the best the Magic had to offer in this game.

Chuma Okeke – A

Markelle Fultz was the one driving action for the Orlando Magic throughout the night. But it was Chuma Okeke who proved himself to be the most active player for the team throughout the night.

Okeke scored 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting, making 4 of his 11 3-point attempts. He added seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

It is those latter stats that matter more for Okeke. He was active in passing lanes and engaged defensively. He contested just about every shot he faced and was one of the few guys who had good attention to detail and intensity on defense. That is what the Magic want to see. And Okeke has been solid defensively throughout the season.

This was a good game for Okeke. It is no coincidence he was the only player on the Magic with a positive plus/minus in a game the magic got blown out.

Jalen Suggs – B

There is definitely a sense Jalen Suggs is easing himself back into things with his limited minutes. The Orlando Magic want him to slow things down and make the simple decision over and over again. That is something he is getting better at. But it has slowed his offense some in scoring just five points on 2-for-6 shooting overall.

Then again, Suggs is also one who does not decelerate a ton. He was going all out in his limited minutes (16 minutes in this one) sometimes even to his detriment.

Suggs gets after it defensively. He dove on the floor for a loose ball in the first quarter after a pass went just off his fingertips, recovered it and found a teammate for an easy dunk. That is the kind of energy Suggs brings. But he was also doing this after it appeared he tweaked his ankle very early in the game.

You certainly love the competitiveness from Suggs. That will serve him well. The Magic just need to direct it in the right way.

R.J. Hampton – C+

R.J. Hampton does a lot of good things. It is easy to see how much talent he has and how good he can be. A lot of this season is finding the best way to channel all that energy — especially defensive energy — with Hampton in the right way.

To say the least, these lineups and the restrictions on the Magic are not the best way to use Hampton right now. The Magic have had to put the ball in his hands a lot more and have him make decisions. That has not been Hampton’s strong suit.

Hampton had four turnovers as he had a lot of ball-handling duties in this game as the third point guard on the team. The Magic as a team made only 2 of 10 shots on fast breaks.

Hamptons still did good things. He tallied 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the game. He could get the ball moving. But, as always, it is about channeling things in the right direction.

Charlotte Hornets – B+

The Charlotte Hornets needed this win. They still have an outside chance of getting a home game in the Play-In Tournament. But more importantly, they needed it to get back on the right foot and snap a two-game losing streak.

The Hornets were not particularly engaged defensively. Orlando shot only 40-percent, but the team got good looks and went score for score with Charlotte for long stretches. But the Hornets pounced on every mistake and every opportunity the Magic left open.

That was more than enough to win this game. Especially with how good offensively Charlotte is. This was a professional win and a stroll through the park.

Next. Ignas Brazdeikis is making his closing statement. dark

The Orlando Magic have clinched at least a top-6 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and will have the best odds to win the Lottery — a 14.0-percent chance to win the first pick and a 52.1-percent chance at a top-four pick. They will close their season Sunday at home against the Miami Heat.