Magic win fifth straight, end 13-game skid vs Hornets
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic ended one streak and stretched another.
The Magic snapped a 13-game losing streak to Charlotte, routing the Hornets 127-89 on Thursday night behind 21 points from reserve Terrence Ross.
“It’s like there has been a paradigm shift, if that makes sense,” Magic forward Aaron Gordon said. “They’ve been whipping us for so long, but I’m glad we got ’em this time.”
The Magic have won five straight for the first time in more than three years. Nikola Vucevic had his fifth straight double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Gordon added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jonathan Isaac scored 16 points.
“It’s been a great performance by this team the last five games,” Vucevic said. “Not only the wins, but the way we’ve been playing. Really impressive performances on both ends of the floor. A lot of guys scoring in double digits, playing together, defending well.”
The Magic led 71-36 at halftime, their biggest lead in any game this season. Guard D.J. Augustin drilled a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half and the Hornets never got closer than 29 points after halftime.
Malik Monk scored 15 points, Jeremy Lamb had 14 and Cody Zeller added 13 for the Hornets.
It was Orlando’s first victory over Charlotte since Dec. 16, 2015.
“I don’t know what it is, what has ignited this stretch, but we’ve finally found a way to come together,” Isaac said.
Charlotte started poorly and got worse throughout a forgettable first half. The Hornets were only 6 of 24 in the first quarter and were already down 15 by the end of the period. The deficit grew to 36 when Orlando outscored the Hornets 16-6 in the final three minutes of the half.
“We were terrible tonight. We were awful and they were good,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “We were not competing, not having pride about your job, not making shots . we were just terrible and we need a break.”
The Magic probably are thinking just the opposite. They have beaten opponents by an average of 22.5 points during the win streak and limited them to below 40 percent shooting from the field. Orlando made 17 3-pointers against the Hornets.
“When the ball goes in the basket, everything else becomes much easier,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “In terms of how we’re playing, yes, the All-Star break is coming at a bad time. This is the best we’ve played all year, but you can see we’re tired. We all need a break.”
The Magic dominated the game at both ends of the court, but most of it was fueled by a relentless defense that limited Charlotte to 26.4 percent shooting for the half.
All-Star Kemba Walker, who has made a career of shooting down the Magic during the 13-game winning streak, was 1 for 10 at the start and only 4 of 17 by halftime. He had a plus-minus rating of minus-27 at halftime and only played seven minutes in the second half before sitting down for the night.
Orlando was almost as good offensively, getting contributions from every player, especially the fast-developing Isaac. The Magic’s top pick in the 2017 draft had 13 points and six rebounds at halftime, and was the anchor at the back end of the team’s defense. Charlotte hit just nine of 25 shots in the paint in the first half.
Hornets: PG Tony Parker (back) and C Bismack Biyombo (knee) sat out. Charlotte is 1-10 without Parker. . The Hornets are 1-10 when they score fewer than 100 points.
Magic: Isaac’s streak of seven straight games with two or more blocks ended. . Orlando is limiting opponents to just 39.6 percent shooting during its five-game winning streak.
Markelle Fultz, traded to Orlando on Feb. 7, made his first appearance in front of the Magic media Thursday, but won’t be in town long. Fultz answered questions and sat on the Magic bench during their game, but will be on a flight to Los Angeles on Friday to resume rehabilitation on his injured shoulder.
“Rehab is going great,” said Fultz, who added there was no timeline for his return to action. “This is an opportunity for me to get a fresh start with the team, coaching staff and organization. They’ve been about building me up both as a man and on the court. That’s music to my ears, really.”
Fultz, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft by Philadelphia, was traded to the Magic in exchange for reserve forward Johnathon Simmons, a top-20 protected first round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick this summer.
Hornets: Host Washington on Feb. 22.
Magic: Host Chicago on Feb. 22.