Charlotte Hornets vs. Orlando Magic Pick & Prediction MARCH 5th 2024

Progress for the Orlando Magic is evident in a variety of ways, and the team should be in a good mindset going into Tuesday night’s road game against the Charlotte Hornets.

Over the weekend, the Magic eclipsed their 2022-23 win total by notching their 35th victory of the season. Orlando also has won three straight and six of its past seven games, including Sunday’s 113-91 drubbing of visiting Detroit. With Tuesday’s assignment, the Magic will have back-to-back games against two of the bottom teams in the NBA.

This will be the first of three Orlando-Charlotte clashes during a one-month stretch, with the teams also meeting March 19 in Orlando and April 5 in Charlotte. The Magic will be starting a three-game road trip on Tuesday that also will feature games against the struggling Washington Wizards and the impressive New York Knicks.

Orlando received 16 points in 16 minutes Sunday from guard Markelle Fultz, who came off the bench. Fultz, who started all 60 games he played last season, has been in a different role recently.

“He pushed the pace at the right time,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He was able to get below the defense and guys found him to finish around the basket and he kept coming at them and I thought that was great for him with that unit.”

The Hornets suffered their fourth consecutive loss with Sunday night’s 111-106 setback at Toronto.

Despite the result, the game marked another encouraging outing for rookie Brandon Miller, who recorded his first career double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Ongoing injury issues have shifted the lineup for the Hornets. On Sunday, forward Cody Martin and center Nick Richards were out with ailments along with reserve guard Seth Curry.

That put Grant Williams and Vasilije Micic in the starting lineup.

“The combinations on the floor will be obviously different because those three guys were all playing major minutes,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “There’s going to be challenges with these guys.”

The Hornets were forced to go with small lineups and had to play little-used 6-foot-10 Marques Bolden at center. He has played just 11 games in four NBA seasons and has eight career rebounds, none on Sunday in eight minutes. That didn’t help one of the Hornets’ biggest needs.

“We’ve got to be able to rebound the ball better,” Clifford said.

Problems with transition defense became too much for the Hornets to overcome against the Raptors.

“Not running back on defense in the third quarter was the difference in the game,” Clifford said. “You’re not going to win many NBA games when the other team has 26 fastbreak points. When you’re giving up that many open 3s and layups in transition, you’re just not going to win.”

The Magic beat the Hornets 130-117 on Nov. 26 at home. Orlando’s Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner each had 30 points in that game, while Miles Bridges posted 23 points for Charlotte.

The Hornets likely are headed to their eighth straight season without a postseason appearance. The Magic are in the thick of the playoff race, sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference entering play Monday. Orlando last made the playoffs in the 2019-20 season, losing in the first round.

–Field Level Media

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