ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Magic lost to the Charlotte Hornets 123-115 last night in their first game back at the Amway Center in 10 months.
The loss gives Orlando a 1-2 record so far in this pre-season which ends on Saturday December, 19 against the Hornets back at Amway Center.
Nikola Vucevic led all scorers with 27 points, Markelle Fultz had 14 points and six assists. New comer Dwayne Bacon and rookie point guard Cole Anthony both scored 13 points while continuing to build chemistry with the team.
Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford realizes that with the shortened NBA pre-season, you have to temper expectations.
“I just think that as a coach, we have to evaluate everything to know where we’re at, but we also have to be realistic about how good we could have done so far because our guys have worked hard and that’s why I feel good about how it wound up,” Clifford said.
Charlotte comes to town with highly touted rookie LeMello Ball, who scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers, while veteran point guard Terry Rozier finished with 20 points to lead Charlotte.
Last night saw the season debut of Terrance Ross who is managing an injured toe. The chemistry between the second unit’s Ross and rookie’s Chuma Ofefe and Anthony show promise of good things to come with all three players being shooters and the rookie’s strong passing skills.
“It felt good being out there playing in a real game,” Ross said. “It took a while to get my second wind, but once I got it I was fine. I felt in rhythm. Just excited to be back.”
Ross was surprised by an deft pass from Ofefe on a backdoor cut that he was able to convert into a reverse dunk.
“There’s not top many guys who can make that pass,” Ross said. “He surprised me with that pass right on the money. That’s always a good sign, too. Chuma, he’s a really good player. I like playing with him, so I’m excited for him.”
In recent comments to the press, Clifford stressed that they are really concentrating on 5-on-5 play and getting his players in rhythm.
He did note that the Magic struggled with it’s perimeter defense tonight, giving the Hornets too much space and scoring chances. He did not notice a lot of things that they would not be able to work to correct.
The Magic faces the Hornets again at the Amway Center on Saturday at the Amway Center. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Florida.