MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The post-Dwight Howard era opened on a sour note for the Orlando Magic as the New Orleans Hornets rode a late surge for an 85-80 preseason victory before a packed house at the Mexico City Arena on Sunday.
The Magic, in their first game since trading six-time All-Star Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a blockbuster 12-player trade in August, failed to get more than 13 points from any of their five starters.
Treating Mexican sports fans to the sights and sounds of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Hornets’ Brian Roberts led the way with a game-high 17 points.
The Magic were led by E‘Twaun Moore, who came off the bench to score 16 points, while local boy and starting center Gustavo Ayon added 12 points in the loss.
The exhibition game marked the start of the NBA preseason for both teams, as well as the 20th such game on Mexican soil, more than any other country outside the United States or Canada.
The game also signaled the start of a new era for the Magic since they parted ways with former first-overall draft pick Howard, the team’s top scorer and rebounder for each of the last six seasons.
But Ayon, only the third Mexican-born player in NBA history, was the clear crowd-favorite as fans cheered his every move. (Editing by Frank Pingue)