It should have been obvious that this game was gonna be a weird one when a clock malfunction delayed the beginning of the game, but it only got stranger from there. While the Charlotte Hornets played well, it wasn't really the kind of dominating performance the score would suggest. The Orlando Magic only scored 29 points in the first half and their terrible offense continued the entire game with the defense never playing much better. Meanwhile, the Hornets just kind of did their thing. They didn't play horribly, make too many mistakes, or do something that would allow Orlando back into the game.
A horrible way to reduce the quality of a win is by saying the opponent just played worse, but that's a lot of what Orlando did tonight. The Magic never got things together on either end of the floor, and for most of the night looked like the worst team in the NBA. Their offense was a mess with constant contested jump shots, turnovers, and a lack of spacing. At one point, the Magic's best offense was to have Victor Oladipo run at the rim as fast as possible and hope his layup went in.
While things on the offensive side were terrible, it didn't get much better for Orlando on the defensive side of the floor. Charlotte easily exploited the holes in the Magic defense with a steady diet of dribble drive and ball movement. The scary part is the ball movement was nothing complex. All Charlotte had to do was pass it twice and inevitably a lane would open up.
While the Magic played worse than the Hornets played well, the Hornets still did a lot of good things tonight to make sure they got the win. Getting to the rim was no problem, thanks to the poor Orlando defense, but Charlotte also made enough jump shots to open up the lanes needed to get to the rim. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker both provided a necessary perimeter attack that kept the Orlando defense honest. Walker in particular had himself a game scoring 30 points on 21 shots and once again putting up big numbers against the Magic, he must not like them or something.
While Walker was the scoring leader, it's impossible to ignore what MKG did tonight. Kidd-Gilchrist had his 11th career double double and played one of his better games of the season. While MKG's improved jump shot is old news at this point, the aggressiveness MKG has been playing with lately is what what has fans excited. Kidd-Gilchrist was constantly looking for his shot tonight and shooting when open. It's great to see MKG with a jump shot that he can rely on, but it's even better to see him not afraid to use it.
Despite everything the Hornets did well they still did their fair share of bad. For one, they once again allowed their opponent back in a game that should have never been close. The Hornets led by 20+ points at one point and finished only leading by eight. An argument can be made that it was just garbage time, but the Hornets are too well known for blown leads to give them benefit of the doubt.
While the Hornets had a dominant lead the entire night they never once looked like a dominating team. Usually a blowout is accompanied with one team looking very impressive, but the Hornets never did. They just kinda leisurely went through the game not looking very impressive throughout and then finishing the game on top. They had some nice moments sprinkled in here and there but it's hard to look at how bad the Magic played and give 100% of the credit to Charlotte.
Complaints aside, a win is a win and the Hornets don't have a lot of those this season, let alone dominating ones like tonight. Maybe missing Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson is doing some good for this group after all.