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Magic come out flat, fall to Hornets despite late comeback push

Magic come out flat, fall to Hornets despite late comeback push

For most of Monday, the Orlando Magic didn’t bring “it” vs. the Charlotte Hornets.

“It” was the focus or execution that was displayed in their back-to-back wins over the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday and Phoenix Suns Friday.

Not until early in the third quarter, when coach Jamahl Mosley did a full lineup change to put an all-bench unit on the floor to replace the starters after falling behind by 19 points, did the Magic start to play with requisite energy.

The starters carried that energy into the fourth but by then it was too late to correct their earlier errors, with the Magic (4-10) falling to the Hornets (4-11) 112-105 at Amway Center.

The loss ended the Magic’s first win streak at two games.

“That was the game right there,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Turning the basketball over, losing possessions and giving wide-open layups on the other end.”

Orlando struggled with several areas in the first half, finishing the opening two quarters with 13 turnovers for 15 Charlotte points and allowing 8 offensive rebounds for 12 Hornets second-chance points.

The main reasons they trailed just 58-45 at halftime was because of the Hornets’ poor 3-point shooting and solid play from the bench.

But the starters came out flat again to start the third, leading to Mosley subbing in R.J. Hampton, Terrence Ross, Caleb Houstan, Kevon Harris and Mo Bamba with 9:07 remaining in the quarter.

The all-bench unit made an initial 9-2 run to make the game more competitive, with the Magic trailing 84-69 at the end of the third.

The starting unit of Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Chuma Okeke, Bol Bol and Wendell Carter Jr. came back in to start the fourth with better energy, bringing the deficit down to 7 multiple times, but the late push came too late, with the Magic falling to 3-3 on the homestand.

They finished with 22 turnovers for 21 Hornets points and allowed 14 offensive rebounds for 18 second-chance points but won the rebounding battle 48-37 because of their own 22 offensive rebounds for 34 second-chance points.

All of the starters had an individual plus/minus of at least minus-11 and every bench player had a plus/minus of at least plus-3.

“If you’re asking if we should play hard every night, absolutely,” Mosley said. “We came out a little bit flat. Part of that is execution, taking care of the basketball, having energy with the ball moving [and] having energy with sharing the basketball. Without looking at the film, that was a big portion of it: Our execution on offense because of the carelessness of the basketball.”

Wagner led the Magic with 23 points (9-of-17 shooting), 6 rebounds and 3 assists while Carter had 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Bamba led the bench with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Hampton scored 10 points.

Mason Plumlee led the Hornets with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Rookie forward Paolo Banchero missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained left ankle.

Banchero practiced Saturday, with Mosley saying, “He went through all the drills we put forth for him,” and that he’d be a game-time decision.

He was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report before being ruled out two hours before tipoff.

Banchero’s status remains day-to-day.

“Obviously he wants to play,” Mosley said. “It’s one of the first times he’s really hurt that ankle. He’s responded to [being out] well. He’s doing the treatment he needs to do. He’s in the training room working with them, doing everything that’s necessary to get back on the court.”

When asked by the Orlando Sentinel pregame if the ankle was still sore, Banchero nodded his head up and down to affirm it did.

Banchero, the No. 1 pick in June’s draft, was originally added to the team’s evening injury report last Tuesday after rolling the ankle on a drive to the basket with 2:51 remaining in the home loss to the Houston Rockets on Nov. 7.

He is averaging a team-high 23.5 points, which also is the most among rookies, to go with 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 34.6 minutes.

Cole Anthony (torn right internal oblique), Markelle Fultz (fractured left big toe), Gary Harris (left knee injury recovery), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) and Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot) remain sidelined.

The Magic wore their all-black City Edition uniforms, which also feature a metallic gray accent, for the first time Monday and unveiled the City Edition court that’ll be used when they wear the jerseys at home.

This article first appeared on Email Khobi Price at or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.



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