Orlando Magic Grades: Charlotte Hornets 120, Orlando Magic 101
The Orlando Magic were unable to pick up a win against the Charlotte Hornets as the defense struggled once again, in yet another embarrassing defeat.
The Orlando Magic knew the skillfull Charlotte backcourt of Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker would challenge them. The two combined to score 41 points in a 120-101 win Wednesday night at the Amway Center.
What they did not expect was the barrage that came their way in the third quarter, and how little they could do to stop it.
Orlando started off the third quarter rusty once again asCharlotte took advantage of the Orlando’s poor offense. As a result, the Hornets picked up quick buckets on the other end. Charlotte outscored Orlando 35-13 in the third quarter, the largest margin in a third quarter for the Magic this season.
Everything seemed to be working for the Hornets. They got to the free throw line 19 times, shot 10 for 24 from the 3-point line (42 percent). The Hornets bench scored 49 points as the Magic defense had no answer for the Hornets team in general throughout the embarrassing loss Wednesday night.
Walker and Batum both excelled at what they are best at. They both drove the ball into the paint, drawing the Magic big men, which resulted in the ample amount of open looks on the perimeter for the offense. Batum and Walker had 13 out of the 25 assists for Charlotte on the night, controlling the tempo of the game.
The Magic starters had a very icy game on the offensive end. They accumulated only 45 points as the Magic bench combined for 56. Ibaka got off to a great start, but it certainly did not translate over to his teammates.
“We had a lot of good looks that went stone cold,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said after the game. “We got a lot of decent looks.”
Those looks just did not go in. The Magic shot an abysmal 9 for 35 (26 percent) from the 3-point line, which did not help the Magic’s cause.
“We didn’t have enough defensive disposition tonight,” Vogel added. “We were great the last couple games, credit the Hornets they passed the ball extremely well.”
PF, Orlando Magic
What really stuck out was Ibaka’s playmaking, he had three assists on the night as he made a couple great big-to-big passes down to Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo. He also had three blocks on the night as he is asked to do by coach Vogel.
Serge Ibaka is least to blame for the 19-point loss against the Hornets as he did everything in his power to help the Magic obtain a win to end the calendar year.
C, Orlando Magic
Vucevic was great offensively as he scored 21 points on a very efficient 10-for-13 shooting. Vucevic had another great game on the defensive end as he ended up getting three steals and one block.
Vucevic did exactly what he was asked to do, which is scoring off the bench and contesting shots in the paint. He has excelled at getting in great positions and going straight up. He dished out four assists, close to his season average, as he proved why he is one of the best passing centers in the league.
C, Orlando Magic
Cody Zeller kept him off the boards as Biyombo totaled only four rebounds on the night, the lowest this season for him. He was boxed out by his matchup in Zeller, as he collected three offensive rebounds, one resulting in a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer in the second quarter, which extended the lead to nine points.
This is a night Biyombo wants to put behind him as this was arguably the worst outing of the season for Bismack.
G/F, Orlando Magic
Hezonja was aggressive right from the start. He collected a rebound and attempted to drive to the basket, as he took too many steps and was called for a traveling violation. Hezonja, since that point, did well on defense as he denied Michael Kidd-Gilchrist the ball. But he often struggled boxing out, and committed three quick fouls.
Hezonja moved without the ball well, as he drilled a 3-pointer the next possession, cutting the Hornets’ lead to 24. He had a contested 22-foot jumper in the next possession that he knocked down as well as a long 3-pointer the next possession. He then he drove the ball to the hoop a couple times and finished well against the Charlotte big men.
He was great in the open floor as he made a couple good passes in transition. Hezonja had a great game on both ends of the floor, the only red flag being his rebounding positioning, as Hezonja finished with 10 points in 12 minutes.
18-14, 4th East
Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum got into the teeth of the Magic defense and dished the ball out to open Hornets shooters. The Hornets bench gave them a huge boost, as it was a complete all-around game for the Hornets. Their defense picked up, as no one on the Magic had a great game besides Nikola Vucevic and Serge Ibaka — at least in meaningful minutes.
The Hornets had one of the best game of their season, a great way to bounce back after the tough buzzer beating loss they took against the Brooklyn Nets. This was a huge win for the Hornets, as this strengthens their spot in a very closely contested Eastern Conference.
The Magic will look to put this loss behind them as they take on the Indiana Pacers in their first game of the new year in 2017.
The Magic will have plenty of practice time to improve their struggling defense, as they have three long days to assess their weaknesses and improve against another Eastern Conference opponent.
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