Kemba Walker scored 24 points and dropped seven assists, Malik Monk scored 21 points, and Devonte’ Graham chipped in 10 points and 3 steals as the Charlotte Hornets blew out the Orlando Magic, 125-100.
The Hornets fell behind early as the Magic sprinted out to a 14-4 lead. Charlotte one upped that run with a 32-9 run to end the quarter. Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb scored nine points apiece during the quarter, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Lamb strained his hamstring going after a loose ball and didn’t return to the game. Malik Monk filled in admirably, scoring eight points in the quarter, including this thunderous jam.
After one, the Hornets led 36-23. The second quarter started much like the first. The Magic scored seven of the quarter’s first eight points, forcing a James Borrego timeout. Walker scored nine quick points in the middle of the quarter to help push the Hornets lead back up to 11 with just over three minutes to play in the half. Monk’s 3-pointer at the buzzer put the Hornets up 63-53 heading into the half.
The third quarter was more of the same. The Magic started the second half with a 12-4 run in the first three minutes. The Hornets built their lead back into double figures, but they lost another starter in the process. Cody Zeller joined Lamb in the locker room about halfway through the quarter with a broken hand. About three minutes later, Nikola Vucevic left the game with an injury of his own. Devonte’ Graham made the third quarter his. He started the quarter in place of Lamb and rewarded the coaching staff for their trust. He had ten points, three steals, and two assists in the third quarter alone. The Hornets pulled ahead late in the quarter and went into the fourth sporting a 95-77 lead.
The Hornets jumped on the Magic to start the fourth quarter. An 8-2 run in the first three minutes of the final quarter forced a Steve Clifford timeout. Malik Monk scored or assisted on the Hornets first 11 points of the final quarter. The rest of the game was garbage time. A dunk by Bismack Biyombo with just under four minutes to play meant every active Hornet scored. A meaningless 3-pointer by Troy Caupain in the final seconds set the final margin.
It was exactly the kind of performance we’ve come to expect from the Hornets after a loss. Apart from some Magic runs early in quarters, the Hornets thoroughly outplayed their opposition. The huge margin of victory allowed coach JB to get his starters some early rest; no Hornet played more than 30 minutes. That’s important with a big west coast road trip on the horizon.
There is bad news though. Jeremy Lamb and Cody Zeller’s injuries both look like they’ll linger. Lamb’s hamstring strain will probably keep him out for at least a couple games, and that type of injury is always tough to get a get gauge of. Zeller’s broken hand will probably keep him out for a few weeks at the minimum. Those injuries probably mean more time for Graham and Frank Kaminsky. Both have proven capable of filling in when needed. Now they’ll have to do it for an extended stretch.
Up next is another home game against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.