A second preseason loss for Orlando was the result last night by 123-118 to the Charlotte Hornets in the Amway.
Back in the Amway for the first time since March the Magic just didn’t get started. This lacklustre opening ultimately contributed to the second preseason loss for Orlando.
In a very underwhelming 1st quarter the Hornets took the lead from the off and held it all the way through to the final buzzer. The only bright spot in the a dismal opening was the return of Terence Ross, who promptly hit his first shot a deep 3 pointer.
A 40 POINT 2ND QUARTER
By halftime the Magic had given up an embarrassing 68 points. The lead had at one point been cut by the second unit to 4 points. They had come on and fought. Khem Birch and Michael Carter-Williams were all hustle and fight. Cole Anthony, Terence Ross and Chuma Okeke provided the ammunition from 3.
Once the starters returned the lead again ballooned, reaching 17 points!
At halftime the score was 68-58, the Magic having hit 40 points in the 2nd quarter. Charlotte had made 25 of 51 shots attempted. The highlight for Orlando was the 11 points on 11 minutes played by Cole Anthony, part of the 29 bench points for Orlando.
INTO THE 3RD
At the start of the 3rd Orlando attacked cutting the lead to 3. Charlotte rallied but after a Vooch 3 pointer the Magic trailed by only a 2 point deficit, which turned out to be as close as the Magic got to drawing level. By the end of he 3rd Charlotte had increased the margin of the lead to 11 points, going in at 99-88.
During the 4th quarter Dwayne Bacon went on a run, to drop the lead to 3 with 2 minutes to go, this coming after Fultz bullet pass to Bacon for wing shot for 3. Baskets were traded but at the final buzzer it ended 123-115.
THE BAD AND THE GOOD
Now I’m not one to criticise individuals in a team game but here goes. Evan Fournier as a highly paid, experienced member of the squad was last night unacceptable in his effort and contribution. On 30 minutes of play his stat line reads 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 0 steals and 4 turnovers. He didn’t hit a 3 and only took 6 shots in total.
Nikola Vucevic again lead the team with his 3rd double-double of preseason with 27 points and 12 rebounds. He shot 60% from the floor (12 of 20) and 37.5% from the 3. There were solid stat lines from Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon, Terence Ross, Dwayne Bacon and Khem Birch.
Cole Anthony provided another night to have Magic fans feeling we have drafted a talent. With 13 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds he made an impact. His 3 point stroke was a threat hitting from 3 of 4 attempts. Over all his shot efficiency and selection is impressive.
Chuma Okeke made some errors but again played with effort. At this stage I’m happy with the progress of a rookie and a guy who has missed almost 2 years of basketball through injury.
DEFENCE ISSUES IN THE SECOND PRESEASON LOSS FOR ORLANDO
As Atlanta did in our last game the Hornets got shots they wanted. Charlotte went 18 of 41 from the 3 and then also benefited from 19 Orlando turnovers. Foul trouble was again present.
As I have written before it has to be remembered we are in preseason. That sees teams playing differently on D. There are discussions between teams as to what each want to face and agreements made. For Orlando that has seen us playing defence differently to in a regular game.
That being said the defence has to be better by the time we face Miami on opening night or it could get embarrassing.
We go again against Charlotte on Saturday night.