Magic, Hornets set for confidence-boosting clash in Charlotte

NBA
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These are painful days for the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.

Both teams have had trouble gaining much traction this season, with both enduring recent rough patches.

The good thing for one of them is that there’s a victory on the horizon because the teams meet Monday night in Charlotte, N.C.

“These are the steps we have to go through right now,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “They’re painful at times. … I know there are brighter days ahead.”

The Hornets have lost 10 of their last 11 games, including two on the road since pulling off Tuesday night’s home victory against in the New York Knicks.

The Magic are in a five-game losing streak, coming off Saturday night’s 102-89 home loss to the Miami Heat.

“Our second-half defense was really what it needed to be,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said.

Orlando has gone four games in a row without reaching the 100-point mark. The last two games came against Miami, with Aaron Gordon joining Nikola Vucevic with a team-high 13 points on Monday before adding 24 on Saturday.

“We’ve struggled to make shots,” Clifford said. “If we want to be good, guys have to be on top of their individual games. … Frankly, watching the last four games (before Saturday), we’re getting good shots. You have to step up and make shots. To win and to be good, what’s more important than shot making?”

Perhaps a trip to Charlotte could be the right tonic.

Clifford is a former Hornets coach. He brought the Magic to Charlotte last month for a 106-83 victory. That’s the last time Orlando won a game.

Swingman Evan Fournier had 26 points in that game, but he has led Orlando in scoring in only one of the five games since then.

Charlotte dropped a 114-90 decision Saturday night at San Antonio. The Hornets held a 19-point lead before crumbling.

“It’s one of those things we have to go through as a young team,” Borrego said. “We have to learn how to close out games.”

Turnovers became one of the trouble spots for the Hornets.

“We’ve got to be stronger and smarter with the ball,” Borrego said.

The offensive glitches tend to surface at the worst times for the Hornets.

“The second half we didn’t move the ball that much,” forward Miles Bridges said. “That was a difference.”

Bridges had a team-high 25 points in the game. He has been Charlotte’s top scorer five times this season, but now in back-to-back games for the first time.

“I was open most of the time,” Bridges said. “I just tried to play post-ups.”

The Hornets played Saturday without rookie forward P.J. Washington because of an ankle injury suffered two nights earlier. The Hornets used veteran forward Marvin Williams in the starting lineup for the first time this season.

Prior to last week, the Hornets lost six consecutive home games. In the last seven home outings, they’ve failed to score more than 107 points in regulation in any of those.

–Field Level Media

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