Magic come out flat, lose to Hornets 124-115

CHARLOTTE, NC – The Orlando Magic (45-32) lost to the Charlotte Hornets 124-115 in a game that Orlando was expected to win.

Markelle Fultz vs. Davis Bertans at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC, April 5, 2024. Courtesy of the Orlando Magic. Magic Head Coach Jamal Mosley blamed himself for his team’s lack of energy or intensity in the surprising 9-point loss.

Markelle Fultz vs Davis Bertans as the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC April 5, 2024 Courtesy of the Orlando Magic

“That’s on me, though,” said Mosley. “That’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them prepared for what they were going to see from a team that the week before had beaten a very good basketball team and have been in very tight ball games. So, I have to prepare them for what this situation was going to be.”

Charlotte ended a three-game losing streak and has been struggling this season, but it is a team with talent, so much talent that they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in late March, another surprising win.

Orlando started the game flat, while Charlotte Head Coach Steve Clifford had his team ready to go.

As with many of the other teams that the playoff-bound Magic have faced recently, the Hornets focused on keeping All-Star forward Paolo Banchero in check, double-teaming and trapping him, and never letting him loose on offense.

Orlando couldn’t stop Branson Williams, who shot a perfect 10 for 10 in the first half for 26 points, including shooting five for five from 3-point range.

Even with having to fight through the Hornets’ defense, Banchero managed to score 32 points to lead the Magic, followed by Franz Wagner, who got hot in the second half and scored 22 points.

Orlando’s defensive juggernaut Jonathan Isaac was unavailable with back spasms, but Markelle Fultz was effective against the Charlotte second unit with 15 points.

When the Magic’s shots were not going in, they usually attacked inside, where they managed 54 points. However, in the third quarter, it was the mid-range opportunities that allowed them to close the gap to a mere five points.

In the end, the energy was not there, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony were not hitting shots, while the Hornets bench outscored the Magic 30-23, usually a strength for Orlando.

The Magic will try to reset and get ready for a home game on Sunday at the Kia Center against the Chicago Bulls at 6 p.m.

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