LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier took turns commandeering the Charlotte Hornets’ offensive efforts, but playing their fourth game in six days, the team was running on fumes by crunch time and ultimately fell to the Orlando Magic, 119-113.
Ball finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists, making six total three-pointers as he carried Charlotte (15-40) through the second half. Rozier, who kept the Hornets afloat in the first half, put up an efficient 24 points and six assists. Dennis Smith Jr. tallied 14 points and four rebounds. PJ Washington dropped in 12 points and Mason Plumlee logged 10 points, nine boards and four assists.
Paolo Banchero put up 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to lead Orlando (22-32). Wendell Carter Jr. followed up with 20 and 12 rebounds and Markelle Fultz added 16, five assists and three steals. Franz Wagner contributed 14 points and six rebounds.
Hayward dropped a nice dump-off pass to Plumlee for the first bucket of the game. The Hornets offense was firing on all cylinders out of the gates, as they made seven of their first nine shots to claim an early 20-13 lead. Rozier scored 13 points on 5-7 shooting in the first as he successfully hunted comfortable looks all game, and Smith racked up a quick seven points late in the first, capping off a strong opening frame with a buzzer-beater from the baseline. After one, Charlotte led 37-28.
All within seconds ⏱️ @Dennis1SmithJr | #LetsFly pic.twitter.com/naHjJWrGGF— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 5, 2023
Orlando opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run to get within one, 37-36. Head coach Steve Clifford picked up a technical arguing the call on Mark Williams’ second foul and soon after, the Magic would gain their first lead of the day on a Bol Bol putback. Rozier quickly found his balance after sprinting to the corner and nailed a three to give Charlotte an 8-0 run of their own and give himself 18 first-half points. The two sides traded buckets and one-possession leads late in the second before a Carter triple and Banchero dunk gave Orlando the 62-58 lead they’d take into the locker room. The Magic closed the half on a 20-7 run.
Terry with a first half @T_Rozzay3 | @HornetsOnBally pic.twitter.com/tBxUOIUaLu— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 5, 2023
They say basketball is a game of runs — they are correct. The Magic went on an 11-3 run to kick off the third quarter, building the overall run to 31-10 dating back to the second. Orlando stretched the lead beyond double digits as the Hornets defense was getting crushed on the glass and struggled to contain drives. Both teams exchanged big runs late in the third as the Hornets clawed back within five, 90-85 through 36 minutes of play. The Melo-Mark connection shined brightly to round out the third quarter.
Melo always on the go ♂️ @MELOD1P | #LetsFly pic.twitter.com/UpptQk8Gvd— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 5, 2023
A dunk from Williams gave the Hornets a brief 97-96 lead, but yet another Orlando run, this time 10-2 pushed the Magic back in front. Ball bounced back strongly after an inefficient shooting stretch in the first half; he went into the locker room 3-10 from the floor, but went 10-14 in the second half to keep the Hornets within striking distance. The game was never out of reach until the final minutes, but a 1-9 mark at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and a four-minute stretch in which they scored just four points doomed the Hornets. In the end, Charlotte fell, 119-113.
Stats of the day
.@hornets guard @MELOD1P has now made a 3-pointer in 43 straight games, the third-longest streak in franchise history. Only Terry Rozier (45) and Baron Davis (46) have had longer streaks.#LetsFly— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) February 5, 2023
.@hornets guard @T_Rozzay3 scored a game-high 21 points in the first half vs. the Magic, the fifth time in his career with 20-plus points in the first half.#LetsFly— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) February 5, 2023
The Hornets have the next two days off to start trade deadline week prior to a matchup with the Washington Wizards on Feb. 8.