The Magic entered tonight’s game fresh off a couple woeful offensive outputs. That continued in the early stages of this contest. They plodded to just three points in the first four minutes of the game en route to a 19 point first quarter. The Hornets fared much better. They assisted on seven of their ten first quarter makes and converted over half their field goal attempts. Devonte’ Graham spearheaded the attack with 12 first quarter points, including three triples. After one, the Hornets led by eight.
The Hornets sabotaged their own lead early in the second quarter. The Hornets first three possessions consisted of a turnover, two missed free throws, and another turnover. The Magic started the quarter on a 14-1 run, with the Hornets lone point coming via a Terry Rozier technical free throw. They finally got their first basket when Malik Monk found PJ Washington for an open 3-pointer. Monk spun in one of his trademark acrobatic layups a short time later. Terrence Ross did what he does against the Hornets and hit three 3-pointers in a two minute stretch. Not to be outdone, Washington hit four 3-pointers of his own in the quarter. Unfortunately those threes made up two-thirds of the Hornets second quarter offense. At the half, they trailed 51-45.
The third quarter was much like the second. This time the Magic started the quarter on a 14-3 run. James Borrego tried to pull some strings by giving Bismack Biyombo and Cody Martin some burn after neither got off the bench in the first half. They made their coach look like a genius. The pair blocked Magic shot attempts on back to back possessions, the second of which led to one of the stranger sequences you’ll see. Malik Monk got fouled while attempting a runner that was blocked by a second defender. Magic coach Steve Clifford challenged the foul call. Not only did the officials rule that the foul call was correct, they also granted the Hornets two points for a goaltend that originally went uncalled. It was part of a 10-0 Hornets run to end the quarter, capped off by a Monk finger roll at the last second. The Hornets trailed by just seven heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets couldn’t keep the good times rolling into the fourth quarter and almost immediately fell back into a double digit hole. Evan Fournier followed seven straight Nikola Vucevic points with a 3-pointer with 5:14 left that put the Magic up 23 and effectively ended that game. We did get this Malik Monk dunk after that point though:
Monk’s big night contained a bunch of acrobatic layups and impressive finishes in traffic. He wasn’t the only former Wildcat to put up big numbers for the Hornets tonight. PJ Washington chipped in 19 points of his own. Graham scored 15, but only three of those came after the first quarter.
The Hornets will get on a plane and head to France to get ready to face the Eastern Conference leading Bucks on Friday.