It took all four quarters, but the Charlotte Hornets clawed their way back from a slow start to win, 109-102, against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night – the Hornets third straight victory as they make a late season push for the playoffs.
Orlando has been a welcome opponent on Charlotte’s schedule this season, losing in three previous games including a 40-point blowout less than two weeks ago. Yet the Magic led most of the game, motivated by, if anything at this point, a desire to not lose to their division rivals in all four of their matchups this season.
The Hornets couldn’t get much going early in the game, scoring only 21 points in the first quarter. Marco Belinelli came off the bench to begin the second quarter and exploded for 16 points in five minutes to keep the Hornets’ deficit to a minimum at 54-48 to end the half.
After a fairly even third quarter, the Magic took a five-point lead into the fourth, but the Hornets finally kicked it into gear and didn’t let up.
Frank Kaminsky came alive a few minutes into the fourth with an open drive down the lane for an easy two, and then promptly followed that up with a big three-pointer to tie the game at 87 with seven minutes to play. After the Magic’s Elfrid Payton made a layup, it was Kaminsky, again, with a go-ahead three to give the Hornets their first lead of the second half on his way to a 13-point fourth quarter performance.
Kaminsky’s strong fourth quarter bought time for Kemba Walker to take over the last few minutes of the game. Walker’s timely three-pointer with a little over two minutes left gave the Hornets a commanding, 104-97, lead before Walker finished the Magic off with free throws.
It may have taken the Hornets the whole game to get going, and five players scoring 10 or more points, but the comeback victory keeps Charlotte’s postseason hopes alive… for now.