Charlotte Hornets

Rebounding, defense give Hornets a win over the Magic. But that wasn’t all.

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) drives past Orlando Magic's Bismack Biyombo (11) Sunday at Spectrum Center.
Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) drives past Orlando Magic's Bismack Biyombo (11) Sunday at Spectrum Center. AP

All you need to know about the challenge Sunday was Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford played all but one available player in the first quarter.

But All-Star point guard Kemba Walker scored 34 points, and the Hornets played terrific first-half defense to beat the Orlando Magic 120-113 at Spectrum Center. The victory improved the Hornets to 3-3. The Magic, one of the NBA’s top offensive teams this early season, fell to 4-2.

The Hornets did a fine job of limiting Orlando players’ open looks from 3-point range. Magic small forward Evan Fournier (23 points) was the only consistent Orlando scorer when the Hornets built a first-half lead of as much as 15 points.

New Hornets center Dwight Howard failed to keep alive his season-long streak of 15 or more rebounds, but he made nine of 13 shots for 22 points (plus 10 rebounds.).

Three who mattered

Walker: This was his 191st game of 20 or more points. He’s one away from tying Larry Johnson for most in franchise history.

Fournier: He kept the Magic in this game pretty much by himself in the first half.

Marvin Williams: He made five of his first six shots and reached double-figure scoring for the first time this season.

Observations

▪  Hornets forward Frank Kaminsky didn’t play Sunday due to an illness. He shot before the game, but then didn’t suit up.

▪  Reserve center Cody Zeller returned to Charlotte’s lineup following a four-game absence with a right knee bruise.

▪  How depleted is the Hornets’ depth? Coach Steve Clifford used every available player in the first quarter, except for Marcus Paige, who is on a two-way contract and expected to spend most of the season in Greensboro.

▪  Kaminsky being out meant more minutes for Treveon Graham and Johnny O’Bryant.

▪  Sunday’s game started a challenging span for the Hornets: Seven games in 13 nights, including five on the road (at Memphis, San Antonio, Minnesota, New York and Boston). The lone home game after the Magic in that span is Wednesday versus the Milwaukee Bucks.

Worth mentioning

▪  The Magic entered this game with an NBA-best 45.9 percent from 3-point range. Orlando shot just 5-of-19 from 3 in the first half.

▪  The Hornets built a big rebounding advantage at the half, 33-22.

▪  Jeremy Lamb (20 points) has now scored 15 or more points in every game this season.

▪  The Hornets have exercised their fourth-year rookie-scale option on Kaminsky.

Report card

B+ OFFENSE: The only thing that kept this from being an A was the ongoing turnover problem.

A+ DEFENSE: The Hornets dominated the rebounding and didn’t get burned from the 3-point line.

B+ COACHING: Clifford is scrambling for playing combinations. He found enough to leave town with a victory.

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell

Hornets 120, Magic 113

ORLANDO (113)—Fournier 8-15 5-5 23, Gordon 7-16 1-2 17, Vucevic 6-17 1-2 15, Augustin 0-7 0-0 0, Ross 6-15 4-5 17, Biyombo 1-3 0-0 2, Mack 3-5 3-3 10, Hezonja 1-4 0-0 2, Simmons 9-15 6-9 27. Totals 41-97 20-26 113.

CHARLOTTE (120)—Kidd-Gilchrist 4-4 2-4 10, Williams 6-8 0-0 13, Howard 9-13 4-9 22, Walker 15-25 2-2 34, Lamb 9-15 0-2 20, O’Bryant III 2-3 0-0 5, Zeller 3-7 0-0 6, Monk 1-8 0-0 2, Graham 2-8 0-0 4, Bacon 2-7 0-0 4. Totals 53-98 8-17 120.

Orlando

24

25

37

27

113

Charlotte

27

34

32

27

120

3-Point Goals—Orlando 11-33 (Simmons 3-4, Fournier 2-4, Gordon 2-6, Vucevic 2-8, Mack 1-1, Ross 1-5, Hezonja 0-2, Augustin 0-3), Charlotte 6-18 (Lamb 2-2, Walker 2-7, O’Bryant III 1-1, Williams 1-3, Bacon 0-2, Monk 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Orlando 40 (Vucevic 11), Charlotte 59 (Williams 11). Assists—Orlando 28 (Fournier, Augustin 5), Charlotte 31 (Walker 10). Total Fouls—Orlando 20, Charlotte 24. A—15,531 (19,077).

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