After tight win, Hornets go for encore in Orlando
The Charlotte Hornets have been intent on making sure that extra work on late-game situations pays off, though that assumes they can stay within range in the final minutes.
So with a last-second victory to their credit over the Orlando Magic on Sunday, the Hornets hope to have another opportunity to show what they've learned when the teams meet again Monday night, also in Orlando.
"I thought that was a lot of growth out there," Hornets coach James Borrego said of Sunday's win. "Offensively, that's what we want done. I thought we got good looks down the stretch."
The Hornets made enough plays to complete a comeback. Some of that might have stemmed from the previous week, when a game was postponed because of the Washington Wizards' coronavirus issues.
Charlotte had just one game during a seven-day stretch.
"I do think a lot of that goes back to (last week) with the time we had to work (on those situations)," Borrego said.
The Hornets won 107-104 on Gordon Hayward's tiebreaking shot on a drive to the basket with less than a second remaining. After an Orlando turnover, he added a free throw to account for the final margin.
Hayward pumped in 39 points, with 13 coming in the fourth quarter, to help the Hornets snap a season-worst four-game losing streak. They rallied from a 14-point, third-quarter hole.
"He made a play. That's what great players do," Borrego said. "These are just areas we worked on all week. Great execution by our group."
If not for Cole Anthony's buzzer-beating 3-pointer in transition last week at Minnesota, the Magic would have a nine-game losing streak. Following that victory, the Magic lost in overtime at Indiana before yet another tight finish on Sunday.
"You have so many games, you have to do your homework on it and fix the things," Magic guard Gary Clark said. "I guess it's good to have a quick turnaround."
The Magic players have tried to maintain positive outlooks.
"Our spirits are in a good place because we're building," Clark said. "We show fight."
Orlando was without Aaron Gordon for Sunday night's game because of back and hip ailments. That left Jordan Bone as the backup point guard. Bone had eight points without a turnover in 15 minutes.
"When he's out there, you're going to get his best," coach Steve Clifford said.
For now, there might be various combinations used.
"With all these guys out, there are going to be times we're going to have to hit it right to score," Clifford said.
The Hornets have been versatile enough to alter player rotations. They went with a smaller group for stretches of the second half of the first regular-season meeting with Orlando.
Borrego had challenged the reserves to be better, and just four backups were used Sunday. They combined for 35 points -- led by 18 from Miles Bridges -- on 15-for-30 combined shooting from the field.
"A much more impactful performance from our bench," Borrego said.
Now, it's a matter of turning in more consistent outings from players throughout the lineup.
"I want to get off to better starts," Borrego said. "I want to lead the whole game. But this team has a spirit."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 25, 2021