LaMelo Ball and PJ Washington helped the Hornets jump out to a lightning fast 7-0 lead and set the tone for the game. That lead grew to as large as 12 by the midway point of the first quarter. Theo Maledon was a surprise star in the early going with a three and a handful of assists. After one, the Hornets led by eight.
The Hornets struggled to keep the Magic out of the paint in the early goings of the second quarter, but some sloppy Magic possessions and a couple of transition baskets for the Hornets kept the margin intact. LaMelo Ball put on a transition passing clinic to help with that. Kai Jones got a couple of minutes of first half run with Nick Richards and Mason Plumlee in foul trouble and blocked a shot. Theo Maledon hit a trio of free throws in the final possessions of the first half to put the Hornets up 13 at the break.
The Hornets cold shooting continued into the third quarter with a number of shots going halfway down before rattling out. Fortunately, the Magic were equally as cold on the other end, and the Hornets were able to capitalize with interior buckets to increase their lead. The Magic were aggressive on the offensive glass, and that effort alone kept the game within reach. The Magic had eight offensive rebounds in the third quarter alone, and seven of those came in the final five minutes of the frame. Still, the Hornets held a 15 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
LaMelo Ball splashed a pair of triples among a flurry of buckets to put the Hornets up 19 and seemingly put the game out of reach. But the Magic wouldn’t go quietly. Chuma Okeke hit a pair of 3-pointers and Bol Bol hit a jumper to pull the Magic back within single digits. The Hornets tightened up the defense and got deflections on seemingly every Magic possession after that point, and that allowed them to slowly pull away despite some less than stellar offensive possessions. Ball hit a floater to put the Hornets up 15 with just over three minutes to go, which forced the Magic to take a timeout and put the Hornets in a position where they needed just a single stop or bucket to put the game away. They wouldn’t make it easy though. A flagrant foul and a Franz Wagner layup gave the Magic a four point possession. Mason Plumlee cashed a pair of free throws to make the lead a little more comfortable, but a somewhat ill advised Oubre shot attempt on the next Hornets possession gave the Magic the ball back more quickly than you’d like.
Terry Rozier finally iced the game with a tip in off a missed Ball three, and a Magic miss on the other end put the game out of reach, even though Oubre missed both free throws on the other end and committed a foul chasing the rebound and then committed another foul on the Magic’s last possession.
Plumlee led the way with his double double and all around floor game. LaMelo Ball (17), Terry Rozier (17), Kelly Oubre (16), PJ Washington (14), Theo Maledon (14), and Jalen McDaniels joined the big man in double figures. Ball finished an assist shy of his own double double even as he works himself back into an offensive rhythm.
The Hornets will try to build off the win when they face another young team in the Pacers on Wednesday.