Healthy Hornets try for 10th straight victory over Magic
The Charlotte Hornets are healthy as every player on their roster practiced Tuesday.
The Hornets are hoping the good health of their roster translates into a win before the All-Star break.
Charlotte gets a chance to snap a four-game losing streak Wednesday night when it visits Orlando and tries for its 10th straight victory over the Magic.
"This is the first time I can remember in a while, we had 14 guys in practice," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "It was good."
Charlotte (23-33) enters its final game before the break 10 games below .500 for the third time this season. The Hornets were 13-23 following a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 31 and went 10-6 in their next 16 games.
Since then, the Hornets are losing by an average of 13.7 points in their third slide of at least four games this season. On Sunday, the Hornets returned from their four-game losing streak and allowed the Toronto Raptors to shoot 56.3 percent and make 48.6 from 3-point range in a 123-103 loss.
It was the third-highest opposing shooting percentage of the season and two of those figures are in this skid.
All-Star Kemba Walker scored 23 points Sunday. He is averaging 25.5 points during the last four games, but Nicolas Batum is shooting 32.6 percent (16 of 49) in his last four games after going 0 of 10 from the field Sunday.
"It's a really rough stretch," Walker told reporters at practice Tuesday. "All teams go through it. (The day off) was much needed. We had a good day today in practice, got a chance to get up and down and get ready for tomorrow."
Orlando (18-38) won three straight in a span of four days last week by beating Miami, Cleveland and Atlanta. The Magic followed it up with a seven-point home loss to Milwaukee on Saturday and a four-point loss at Chicago on Monday.
The Magic trailed by 18 with eight minutes left and had a chance to win but Mario Hezonja missed a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds.
"I'm (ticked) that I missed," Hezonja said. "I didn't win for my team today and I'm extremely mad but it's going to serve as experience going forward in these clutch moments for me."
Hezonja's 3-pointer was part of a mistake-filled and frustrating night for the Magic. The Magic misplayed an inbounds play with 15.2 seconds Monday resulting in a turnover by Shelvin Mack and a dunk for Chicago's Zach LaVine.
Hezonja scored 24 points and is averaging 16.7 points in his last six games. Hezonja is getting increased playing time while Aaron Gordon recovers from a hip injury.
Evan Fournier added 22 and has scored at least 20 points in three straight games for the second time this season.
"We fought, and we got back into the game just by playing hard," Fournier told reporters. We've got to learn from it."
One area the Magic are hoping to get more production from is point guard. In two games since Elfrid Payton was traded to Phoenix, D.J. Augustin has started and scored a combined 16 points.
Gordon, who leads the team in scoring at 18.4 points and is second in rebounding at 8.3, missed his eighth straight game with a strained left hip flexor. He is listed as questionable for Wednesday and the Magic are 5-12 when Gordon sits out.
Despite the two close losses, Orlando is playing better recently. Since a seven-game losing streak from Dec. 30-Jan 12, the Magic are 6-7 in their last 13 contests. Of their seven defeats, only a 115-98 loss to Washington on Feb. 3 was by double-digits.
In Charlotte's 104-94 victory over Orlando on Dec. 4, Walker scored 29 points while the Magic committed 20 turnovers.
Updated February 13, 2018