Orlando (22-16) is 1-2 on its four-game trip, routing Golden State in the opener Wednesday before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix over the weekend. The two defeats were by a combined nine points, including Saturday’s 107-101 loss to the Suns.
Orlando fell behind by as many as 18 in the third quarter, but cut the deficit to 104-101 on Jameer Nelson’s 3-pointer with 2:13 to play. The Magic, playing their second game in two nights, had several chances to get closer or tie it after that but couldn’t.
“To be down by 20 to the best team in the NBA, and come back like that is saying something about our team,” Nelson said. “Regardless of stats, and who did what, as a team, it shows character.”
The Magic were outscored 60-49 in the first half and the Suns shot 53.1 percent for the game—the highest percentage Orlando has allowed in the last seven contests.
“To be honest with you, they shut us down in the first half with their defense,” Nelson said. “They did things that took us out of our game and things that we had to adjust to.”
Orlando has dropped six of its last seven on the road to fall to 8-10 away from Amway Arena. The Magic, however, have won four of their last five against the Hornets (14-22), including two straight on the road.
New Orleans received an extra off day Saturday when its game at Milwaukee was postponed due to inclement weather in Oklahoma City that kept the Hornets from flying.
New Orleans has won two in a row for its longest winning streak since a four-game run from Nov. 14-Nov. 21. The Hornets defeated Washington 104-97 on Friday.
New Orleans shot 54.5 percent, its second-best effort from the field this season. The Hornets had only seven players available due to injuries, but six scored in double figures, led by Desmond Mason with 22 points, and Rasual Butler, who had 20.
Devin Brown, signed by the Hornets last month, tied a season high with 19 points.
“Devin has done a great job,” coach Byron Scott said. “It was a guy we were looking at before the season started, but we didn’t want to fill that last roster spot until we really needed it. Fortunately for us, Devin was still out there when we needed him.”
New Orleans badly needs Brown’s offense, as the Hornets are last in the NBA at 90.2 points per game and scored more than 100 on Friday for the first time since Dec. 6.
The Magic and Hornets will be meeting for the second time this season. Orlando won 86-83 at home Dec. 20.