Hornets Sunday night wrapup: Charlotte at Orlando Magic

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Sunday’s 107-104 Charlotte Hornets’ road win at the Orlando Magic that improved Charlotte to 7-9 overall:

… Hornets coach James Borrego said last week’s unexpected five-day layoff caused by last Wednesday’s coronavirus-related postponement of a home game against Washington Wizards gave his team lots of time to practice end-of-game situations. That came into play on Sunday as the Hornets ran a clear out for Gordon Hayward, whose lay-up with 0.7 seconds left provided the winning margin. “I thought we executed extremely well there,” Borrego said. “I thought we executed extremely well there.”

… Hayward’s game-winner was his fifth career game-winning shot with five second or less. It also was Charlotte’s first such win since Devonte’ Graham’s game-winning 3-pointer at New York on Nov. 16, 2019. “I think we’re learning with each game,” said Hayward, who finished with 39 points and nine rebounds in the victory.

… Hayward entered the game ranked among the NBA’s top six fourth-quarter scorers. He added 13 more fourth-quarter points in Sunday’s win.

… Charlotte’s fourth-quarter rally from a 12-point deficit marked the team’s largest since a March 21, 2018 win at Brooklyn. It also marked the second time this season the Hornets have trailed at the end of the first three quarters to win while also overcoming a double-figure deficit; The Hornets won 118-110 at New Orleans on Jan. 8. “It’s a resilient win,” Borrego said. “It’s a resilient group. This group has a spirit and it just kept fighting.”

… Borrego had called out the play of his top reserves Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball after last Friday’s 123-110 home loss to Chicago in which that duo combined for nine points, eight rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes. On Sunday, Bridges had 18 points, six rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes and Ball had 11 points, five rebounds and eight assists in 28 minutes. “We’re better when our backs are against the wall,” Bridges said. “This was a must-win for us, I believe.”

… Charlotte’s victory snapped a four-game losing streak to the Magic that came after the Hornets had won 13 straight over Orlando from January 2016 to December 2018. It also evened the all-time series between the two franchises at 54 victories apiece.

… Borrego echoed much of what the franchise said about what Hayward would bring to his teammates when he was signed to a four-year, $120 million contract in November. “He gives them confidence, knowing that he’s a clutch-time performer who can make big plays and hit big shots.”

What’s next: Charlotte visits Orlando to end the back-to-back on Monday at 7 p.m.