Magic Musings: No comeback this time against Hornets

ORLANDO, Fla. — There was no comeback from a 23-point deficit by the Orlando Magic against the Charlotte Hornets this time around.

Six weeks after pulling off one of the more improbable victories in the franchise’s history at Charlotte, the Magic never recovered from a miserable shooting performance in the first half Saturday night and fell 98-90 to the Hornets, who snapped a five-game losing streak.

The Magic have gone 1-6 at home since Dec. 19, including a 100-98 loss Friday night to Brooklyn where they trailed by as many as 26 points in the second half. That does not bode well going into a four-game trip which will take them to Denver, Los Angeles, Portland and Chicago.

Down 52-29 at halftime and 70-54 through three quarters, the Magic got to within single digits of the lead when two free throws by Nikola Vucevic made it a 90-81 game with 1:23 remaining. Elfrid Payton’s three-point play cut the Hornets’ lead to 91-84, but that was as close as the Magic got.

Kemba Walker, who poured in an NBA season-high 35 points in the second half against the Magic a week ago, had a three-point play and three free throws in the final 2:04.

Victor Oladipo had 21 points and Vucevic 20 for the Magic, who played the second half without forward Canning Frye (strained right elbow).

Al Jefferson missed his third game in a row for the Hornets with a groin strain. Jason Maxiell, who rode the Magic’s bench for the latter part of last season, played a season-high 30 minutes for the Hornets in Jefferson’s absence and pulled down eight rebounds.

The Magic were outrebounded 53-44 and have not finished a game with an advantage in that category since Dec. 12 at Atlanta.

Magic vs. Hornets

THE TURNING POINT

The Magic missed all 10 of their shots and turned the ball over five times to end a second quarter in which they did not score after Victor Oladipo made two free throws at the 6:59 mark. What was a 30-29 lead for the Hornets became 52-29 by halftime.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Walker scored 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half.

STAT OF THE GAME

The nine points in the second quarter were the fewest for the Magic in any quarter this season. In their last two games, the Magic have a total of 24 points in the second quarter.

WHAT’S NEXT

Wednesday night at Denver, 9 p.m.

You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla or email him at khornack32176@gmail.com.