Vucevic posts 13th double-double, Magic beat Hornets 117-10
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Nikola Vucevic scored 28 points and rookie point guard Cole Anthony added a career-high 21 points as the Orlando Magic defeated the Charlotte Hornets 117-108 on Monday night.
Orlando snapped a two-game losing streak and bounced back from squandering a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter a night earlier in a loss to the Hornets.
On Monday, Orlando led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter and took an 11-point lead into the fourth before Charlotte made a charge. The Hornets closed within 101-94 and later 115-108, but the Magic were able to hold their division rivals off behind the stellar play of Vucevic. The 7-footer also had 12 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season.
Orlando made a season-best 19 3-pointers, including seven in the third quarter. Evan Fournier hit 5 3s and scored 19 points. Orlando’s Dwayne Bacon had 15 points against his former team before leaving midway through the fourth quarter with an injury.
Aaron Gordon, who missed Sunday’s game with hip and back soreness, returned on Monday and sparked Orlando’s offense with his playmaking. He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Anthony made 8 of 12 shots and 4 of 5 3-pointers and outplayed fellow rookie point guard LaMelo Ball. The No. 15 pick in the November NBA draft scored 10 points and made two 3-pointers in a third period that saw Orlando surge ahead by as many as 20 points. Ball, the No. 3 pick, had nine points and four assists, but missed all five of his 3-point shots.
Gordon Hayward, the hero of Charlotte’s 107-104 win a night earlier with his 39 points and a game-winning layup, finished with 24 points on Monday. Devonte Graham (21 points) and Rozier (24 points) each made four 3-pointers for Charlotte, which lost to the Magic for the fifth time in six meetings. The Hornets made just 11 of 38 3-point shots.
Charlotte built a 15-point lead in the first quarter, but Orlando responded with a 20-2 run to get back in the game. After a dreadful offensive start, the Magic made 13 of 21 shots and 5 of 9 3-pointers in the second quarter to take a 55-54 halftime lead.
For the first time in NBA history, two female officials — Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroeder — worked the same game. Schroeder and Sago, the fourth and fifth female referees hired to the league’s staff for the 2020-21 season, worked with veteran official Sean Wright on Monday. Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling, Ashley Moyer-Gleich and Simone Jelks are the other three fulltime female referees.
“It’s a special night for our league and for women and I look at somebody like my daughter, who will be watching and it’s a big step,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “I love that I’m a part of a league that’s breaking barriers, and tonight I’m proud to be a part of that game.”
The only controversy of the night involving the referees came with 1:46 to play when Anthony was called for a blocking foul and Magic coach Steve Clifford issued a Coach’s Challenge. The challenge was unsuccessful — a first in seven tries this season by Clifford.
Hornets: Borrego said he will continue to evaluate his center rotation now that Cody Zeller is back after missing four games with a broken bone in his hand. Bismack Biyombo started his 16th game on Monday, while Zeller made one start. Said Borrego: “It’s a work in progress and it’s not going to be answered overnight. Five games from now, we’ll look back and see where we’re at. But this is not going to be a quick fix.” … Hayward’s last-second layup a night earlier was the sixth game-winner of his career in the final five seconds.
Magic: Clifford admitted that he is worried about the extended minutes his players are seeing because of injuries and the compacted schedule, stressing, “We’re in unchartered waters. This is Year 21 (in the NBA) for me and I’ve never been involved in a schedule like this. Their bodies can only take so much sometimes.” … The Magic announced that they will soon begin construction on a 130,000-square-foot training center and practice facility in downtown Orlando. The facility is expected to be opened in mid-2022.
Hornets: Host Indiana on Wednesday in the first of two meetings over three nights.
Magic: Host Sacramento on Wednesday.
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