Dwight Howard scored 22 points and took 13 rebounds as the Charlotte Hornets repelled Orlando’s fourth-quarter comeback and beat the Magic 104-102 on Wednesday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.
The Hornets led by double digits in the third quarter, gave it all back and more early in the fourth, and jumped back into the lead in the final three minutes as a layup by Howard and a jumper and free throw by Jeremy Lamb staked them to a 96-94 lead with 2:16 to play.
Orlando responded with a free throw and a layup by Bismack Biyombo only to see Kemba Walker’s 25 foot 3-pointer and Nicolas Batum’s even deeper 3 on back-to-back possessions give the Magic the lead for good.
Walker added 20 points for the Hornets, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Lamb and Batum scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, for Charlotte.
Mario Hezonja scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for Orlando, which has lost three straight games. Biyombo also had a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) while D.J. Augustin and Marreese Speights added 16 points each, and Evan Fournier hit for 13 for the Magic.
Fournier led all scorers in the first half with 13 points, including a ringing 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds to play to pull the Magic to within 54-53 at halftime.
Lamb and Walker paced the Hornets with 10 points each, and Howard pulled in eight rebounds (all on the defensive end) for Charlotte, which led by as many as nine points in the first 24 minutes of play.
The Hornets expanded their lead to 80-68 on Walker’s 3-pointer with 4:02 to play in the third quarter and held a seven-point advantage heading into the final quarter.
Orlando began the fourth quarter by scoring 11 of the first 13 points and sweeping to an 89-87 lead.
Charlotte returns to play on Feb. 22 with a home game against Brooklyn; the Magic host the Knicks on the same night after the All-Star break.
—Field Level Media