Advertisement

Beede’s Breakdown: How Magic cruised by Hornets to secure postseason berth

With the playoffs in sight and their goals achievable, it could have been easy for the Magic to overlook an opponent such as the 13th-seeded Hornets on Tuesday.

But with so much at stake in the final stretch of the regular season, Orlando (41-28) had no choice but to capture its fourth-straight victory in the second of an eight-game homestand at Kia Center.

Jamahl Mosley‘s squad exploded for 40 points in the second quarter, and held a 35-point lead at halftime during the 112-92 win over Charlotte (17-52).

With the win, Orlando secured a non-losing season for the first time since 2018-19 and clinched, at worst, the No. 10 spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

Of course, the Magic want more than that — the team seats fifth in the East — but to earn a spot in the postseason is significant for a franchise that’s undergone a massive rebuild in recent years.

“We set out to be playing our best basketball in March and April, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do on a consistent basis,” Mosley said post-game.

Orlando remains at Kia Center when it hosts the Pelicans (42-26) on Thursday (NBA TV, 7).

Second quarter scoring spree

Although the Magic held a 10-point lead after the opening 12 minutes, it was in the second frame when the game got really out of hand.

That’s when Orlando shot 70% (14 of 20) from the field and limited Charlotte to 35.3% while outscoring the Hornets 40-15. For perspective, Cole Anthony alone totaled 17 points in the frame.

It marked the sixth time this season Orlando has scored 40-plus points in a quarter. This was done by turning defense into offense when the Magic scored 18 points off 9 Charlotte turnovers.

The 35-point lead at halftime is tied for the second-largest lead at the half in franchise history.

Anthony’s antics

Whether he was pulling up from 3-point range or cutting to the basket, the backup point guard didn’t miss a shot in the first half against the Hornets.

Anthony went 8 of 8 from the field for 19 points including a trio of triples while posting Orlando’s largest plus-minus rating at plus-27.

Entering the matchup sixth in the NBA in total points off the bench. Anthony (21) was part of a larger effort that saw Orlando’s reserves outscore Charlotte’s 61-20.

Suggs’ steals

Known for his high-energy and physical style of play on defense, Suggs somehow found another gear on Tuesday.

Already averaging a team-high 1.41 steals, the Magic guard recorded 3 in the first half. Entering the matchup, he ranked ninth in the NBA in steals.

Providing constant ball pressure to Charlotte’s ball-handlers, Suggs made his presence known all over the court by denying passing lanes and forcing his way to the ball.

He also contributed on offense as one of five Magic players to finish in double figures. Totaling 16, Suggs nailed a pair of triples, including one assisted behind-the-back from Paolo Banchero (13 points).

Rookie watch

With the result of the game already determined late in the third quarter, Anthony Black played the final 9:01 of the night.

He joined Orlando’s third unit of Caleb Houstan, Chuma Okeke, Admiral Schofield and Goga Bitadze on the floor for a large portion of the final frame.

Black’s lone basket came when he cut in the paint and finished with a two-handed slam off an assist from Bitadze with 6:13 remaining in the game.

Jason Beede can be reached at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com