The starters came out and played fine, which is a huge step up from how poorly they’ve played to start most recent games. The same bench group of LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and Cody Zeller that provided so much energy for the Hornets last night did the same tonight. They took a three point lead and blew it up as large as 15 in about five minutes of time. That trio wasn’t doing all of the damage though. Gordon Hayward picked up where he left off the night before and dropped a game high ten points in the quarter. After one, the Hornets led by 11.
Everything fell apart in the second quarter. The Hornets, who had led 30-15 at one point in the first, found themselves down 35-32 just over four minutes into the second quarter. The Hornets made just one of ten shots during that stretch, while Terrence Ross did most of the damage for the Magic. The Hornets were able to generate just enough offense to stay afloat while they let the Magic do whatever they wanted on the other end of the floor. They were able to finish the half strong to undo the damage they had sustained over most of the quarter. They string together some stops and scored eight straight points to end the quarter to cut the deficit to one.
The third quarter wasn’t any better as the starting group went back to their anemic ways. The Magic outscored the Hornets 19-7 while the Hornets had their starting lineup on the floor. The bench unit got a bucket on their first offensive possession, but they were victimized by the now streaking Magic. Cole Anthony hit a couple 3-pointers to grow the Magic lead to 20 at the five minute mark of the quarter. That proved to be the high water mark, as the Hornets scored 11 straight points to get the deficit back within single digits.
Terry Rozier scored the Hornets first eight points of the fourth, but the Hornets, and Bismack Biyombo in particular, struggled to contain the Magic’s offense. The two teams played pretty evenly throughout the fourth quarter, but that’s not what the Hornets needed. The Hornets were never really able to threaten, and the Magic cruised home for the victory.
The glaring issue in tonight’s game was the poor play of the starters. Bismack Biyombo gave up a number of open 3-pointers, especially in the fourth quarter, and was in general a liability on both ends of the floor. The Hornets were -15 in his minutes and it often felt like they were being weighed down on both ends.
Gordon Hayward played a strong first half. Terry Rozier played well in the second. Devonte’ Graham put up some buckets to try to help the Hornets come back late.
The Hornets will get a night off before a pair of home games against the Pacers.