Thursday, November 30, 2023
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NBA Preview: Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic

Following a two-game road trip that produced the first win under new head coach Jamahl Mosley, the Orlando Magic return home on Wednesday to play the red-hot Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets cooled off slightly on Monday, but they still put up big offensive numbers in a 140-129 overtime loss to the visiting Boston Celtics. Charlotte was coming off a 3-0 start for the first time in franchise history.

Eastern Conference Player of the Week Miles Bridges had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while LaMelo Ball hit seven of Charlotte’s 19 3-pointers and finished with 25 points and nine assists. The Hornets had been looking to complete a back-to-back sweep that included a 111-95 triumph over the host Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

The Hornets ended the preseason with a 68-point loss to Dallas on Oct. 13, but head coach James Borrego’s team picked up the pace. Charlotte, which had Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington sidelined by injuries on Monday, also continues to rely on its depth with seven players scoring in double figures against Boston.

Bridges posted 30- and 32-point games against Cleveland and Brooklyn, respectively, to join Kemba Walker as the only players in Charlotte history with multiple 30-point performances through the first three games of a season. The 6-foot-7 forward also became just the second Hornets player to earn Player of the Week honors in the first week.

“I kind of felt like this last year at the end of the season,” Bridges said after the Brooklyn win. “But like I said, my teammates are doing a great job of finding me and Coach (Borrego) is doing a good job of drawing stuff up for me. I just want to continue to keep playing hard.”

Orlando experienced a reversal of fortune on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The Magic, who endured a 26-point road loss to San Antonio that preceded a 25-point setback to New York in their home opener, downed the Knicks 110-104 as Cole Anthony had the first double-double of his professional career.

Anthony, who attended Archbishop Molloy High School in nearby Queens, N.Y., had 29 points and a career-best 16 rebounds to go along with eight assists. Orlando’s bench also stepped up by outscoring its New York counterparts 39-34, due in large part to Terrence Ross.

Ross scored all 22 of his points in the fourth quarter, helping the Magic overcome a six-point deficit after three periods. It marked an Orlando record for most fourth-quarter points, breaking the previous total of 21 set by Brooks Thompson in 1996 versus the Detroit Pistons.

Orlando tightened up defensively — something Charlotte struggled with against Boston as the Celtics’ duo of Jayson Tatum (41) and Jaylen Brown (30) combined for 71 points — after the Knicks sank a franchise-record 24 3-point baskets in the first meeting on Oct. 22. New York went 13 for 48 from long range in the rematch.

The Magic dropped their third game of the season on Monday, 107-90 to host Miami.

Jimmy Butler poured in 36 points for Miami, which started fast with a 27-15 lead after the first quarter. Orlando rookie Franz Wagner (15 points) scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game, but the Magic had 18 total turnovers and the Heat took advantage on the fast break.

“They (the Heat) have 21 fast break points off 18 turnovers for us. That was similar to the first New York game where we had 19 turnovers,” Mosley said. “So, I think our just being able to get those possessions and take care of the basketball was the one thing that stands out the most to me right now.”

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