ORLANDO, Fl – The Orlando Magic defeated the Charlotte Hornets 120-117 in their final preseason game of the 2020-21 NBA season at Amway Center.
Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 20 points, followed by rookie Cole Anthony (19) and Nikola Vecevic (18).
Magic head coach Steve Clifford was looking for better defense, and promised that it would lead to more offensive opportunities , and he was right.
The Magic opened with strong defensive intensity that he was looking for.
“The defense in the first 3 quarters tonight was, I think, some of the best we’ve played. I was pleased with their attitude.”
Anthony went 7 for 14 in 26 minutes and had a ton of energy, even diving for a loose ball in the 3rd quarter.
“Cole loves to compete. We saw that in his college play. You can’t teach that. He’s the same was in practice. Even thought some things didn’t go is way, he kept pushing and played hard.”
Well, Cole Anthony brought the energy, diving on the floor for lose balls, pushing the ball up and distributing it, even driving to the hole without fear. He definitely mades some noise at the end of his first NBA preseason comes to an end and things get real.
“The difference in the NBA is these guys don’t miss” said Cole “Not like in college. You’ve gotta respect these guys. Making them put the ball down is not enough. I know I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Charlotte trailed for most of the game, trailing the Magic by 11 after the first, 14 at the half, and battling a 16 point deficit air the end of the third.
The Hornets were lead by Devonte’ Graham with 20 points, followed by 13 from Cody Zeller, and 12 from Terry Rozier, including 3 straight 3’s at one point in the second half.
LeMello Ball had a fairly quiet night, going 1 of 8 from the field and scoring 4 points with 4 assists.
One of the main concerns, which is a concern for all of the NBA, is fatigue. With such a shortened ramp up to the season, the players haven’t had time to build up their legs. You cold see some of the fatigue in the players.
Clifford addressed this by running 5-5’s and full contact play a lot in camp. Clifford gave the guys Sunday off, but the team will be watching film. He pointed out that outside of the team play, the team is also doing one on one , individual work and has designed specific training plans for each player.
The Magic start the season on December 23rd, facing off against the 2020 Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat at Amway Center.