The Orlando Magic have been one of the hottest/ biggest surprises of the season. Their offense had been scorching. Charlotte, at 2-3, was dealing with injuries and trying to find an identity on offense. That changed tonight, as the Hornets scored 120 points, and defeated the Orlando Magic 120-113.
This is particularly impressive when you consider the Hornets were without one of their best offensive players to start the season in Frank Kaminsky, who was a late scratch with an illness. The good news is the Hornets got Cody Zeller back from a bone bruise in his knee. Zeller had six points and six rebounds in his return. It was a balanced effort for the Hornets, with all five starters scoring in double figures. Lots of Hornets players had their best game tonight. Marvin Williams had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played a season-high 23 minutes and scored 10 points.
Jeremy Lamb continued his strong play with 20 points and seven assists. Dwight Howard had another double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
They played well, but Kemba Walker was spectacular. Kemba had his best game of the season, with 34 points and ten assists. He had several breathtaking drives and finishes around the rim. Every time like it seemed the Magic would come back, Kemba had an answer.
Charlotte shot a sizzling 54 percent from the field for the game. The ball was hopping, as Charlotte had 31 assists for the evening. On the downside, turnovers continue to be a problem — Charlotte coughed it up 16 times tonight. Working in young players like Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon certainly adds to that number, but it is concerning for a team that typically protects the ball. Bacon had four points and eight rebounds, and Monk had two points and three assists for the game. Monk continues to play back up point guard with the absence of Michael Carter-Williams.
On the defensive side of things, Charlotte did a pretty good job slowing down one of the hottest offenses in the league. Dwight Howard was a big part of that in holding Nikola Vucevic to 15 points. Charlotte forced 11 Orlando turnovers and dominated the glass 59-40. The Hornets also had seven blocks for the game. When Orlando was making a run to the fourth, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a big rejection of Fournier at the basket.
On the Magic side, Jonathan Simmons led them with 27 points. Orlando had four other players in double figures as Aaron Gordon has 17 points, Evan Fournier had 23 points, Terrence Ross had 17 points, and Shelvin Mack had 10 points. For the game, Orlando shot 42 percent from the field, including 33 percent from 3.
This is a big win for Charlotte at home against a division rival. Hopefully, Kaminsky will be back soon and Charlotte can settle into a more regular rotation. Tonight, however, was a step in the right direction for a struggling offense. It doesn't get easier, though, as the Hornets head to Memphis to play the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night.