The Magic never went away from what worked for them relying on a heavy dose of post work, drive and dish, and pindown sets to get their scorers in good position. Tobias Harris in particular was a major problem for the Hornets, he was all over the place, attacking the Hornets with the ball in his hands and in many spot up situations. Of course, he had help in poking holes through the defense. Nicola Vucevic was a monster down low and while Al Jefferson did his best, there was no possible way to slow down the Magic big man. Vucevic finished with 22 points ,11 rebounds and many times tonight and generally looked unstoppable at times.
While those two players in particular had big games it was the entire Magic offense that looked solid tonight, making a joke out of the Hornets defense. Whenever the Hornets needed a stop they were unable to get it, and in the rare times they did, the offense would take their turn in falling apart. No matter what Steve Clifford threw out there it didn't matter, the Hornets couldn't consistently stop it.
This bad defense made a fantastic effort by Kemba Walker completely pointless. Walker finished the game with a career high 42 points and seven assists. After an okay first half, scoring seven points, Walker came alive in the second half scoring 35 points and single handedly keeping the Hornets within striking distance of the Magic. While Charlotte's offense sputtered and couldn't do anything, Walker did everything he could to keep Charlotte in the game.
But it was all for not, while Walker was putting up a career high, the Hornets could not break a double digit scoring deficit. Multiple times the Hornets got the Magic lead down to 10 points, and every time they couldn't make the plays to bring it down even more. Keep in mind that Walker is tearing up the entire second half and not a single other player on the Hornets could step up in the end. Which means the usual result was the Magic would build their lead back up, Kemba would inevitably bring it back down, and then the Magic built it up again. It was an endless cycle of repetition that drove fans mad. They only needed a few defensive stops or a couple big offensive plays and they just couldn't get it.
A large part of why the Hornets offense was so ineffective was that, despite making eight 3-pointers, the Magic didn't take the Hornets perimeter game seriously. Orlando wold pack the paint with three or four defenders and dare the Hornets to shoot over them. This constant packing of the paint is why Al Jefferson had such a limited game. He finished with 14 points on 11 shots, but could never consistently get anything going. The Hornets need to do a better job of getting him in positions where he can be successful and stretching the defense out, otherwise he can't be at his most effective.
Besides Jefferson, everybody else on the Hornets was ineffective all night. If you take away Jefferson and Kemba's shots made and attempted, the rest of the Hornets went 14-for-44 from the field. That's good enough for 31% shooting from the field.
Despite all of this, the Hornets somehow put themselves in a situation where a late game comeback was possible. The defense came alive and looked like what we had expected it to be all season. Players sagging to help protect the rim while using their speed and athleticism to recover and contest 3-pointers. Hands were active and it looked like the Hornets might be able to pull it off. Then the offense imploded to the point of no return and the game was lost. If it's not one thing it's another with this team.
Make no mistake about it, the Magic played better than the Hornets all night long but Charlotte still played horribly. The defense and offense were so far absent that Kemba Walker scoring 42 points had less of an impact on the outcome of the game and more of an impact on how much Charlotte lost by. The Magic earned their win but Charlotte didn't exactly make it difficult on them. Guess that's just how it's been this season.