Game On: Hornets @ Magic (With LIVE CHAT!)

Published: February 11, 2011

The last time these two teams met, the Magic had a 9 game winning streak going and were simply destroying teams after making two massive trades to shake things up. The Hornets, meanwhile, were struggling, having gone 11-15 in their previous 26 games after an 11-1 start. The game was a turning point, however, for the Hornets. They went nose to nose with the bully and walked out of the arena with a 92-89 overtime win that helped propel the Hornets to a franchise record 10 game winning streak.

Marco Belinelli sprained his ankle two minutes into the game, and as a result, Marcus Thornton got 32 minutes and scored 22 points while pulling down 9 rebounds. He wasn’t terribly efficient in that game, but his energy and effort woke this team up and gave them the boost they needed to defeat the hottest team in the league. With Ariza and Okafor both ailing and the Hornets defense suffering as a result, somebody other than Paul and West is going to have to step up with a huge game if the Hornets have any hope of walking out of this game with a W.

When the Hornets Have the Ball:

The last time these two met, Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor combined to shoot 15-23 for 34 points. Neither are expected to suit up tonight. Honestly, it is going to be difficult for the Hornets to put up points against this Magic team, as Dwight Howard will be able to cheat off of Gray and keep CP3 and West out of the paint. In addition, the Magic have been great at keeping most teams from scoring on them in transition. Add it all up and there are only two ways the Hornets win this game:

1.) They play their first great defensive game since Emeka went down, hold Orlando to between 80-85 points.

2.) They start raining threes (somewhere between 10-15)

Which one is more likely? Honestly, it will hard to see either one happening. But hey, that’s why they play the game. Right? …. Right?

When Orlando has the Ball:

Dwight Howard went off for 29 and 20, and that’s when the Hornets had their best defensive player on him. Tonight he will be guarded by Aaron Gray, David Anderson, and DJ Mbenga. Hornets fans all remember the game last year in New Orleans where Aaron Gray outplayed Dwight Howard in the 4th quarter to lead the Hornets to a 100-93 victory. What they might not remember, however, is that Gray picked up 5 fouls in just 24 minutes against Howard. Dwight is a much better player now, and this time Orlando will be at home. Just sayin’, don’t be surprised if Gray picks up 2 fouls in five minutes (especially with the way refs have been treating the Hornets as of late).

Outside of Howard, it is impossible to predict whether anybody else will show up for Orlando. They have seven other guys who can go off for 20 points on any given night (Nelson, Reddick, Arenas, Anderson, Bass, Richardson, and Turk). Each and every one of those guys are equally capable of going 1-9 like Nelson did the last time these two met. The danger for the Hornets will be the fact that they must double Howard, and if you give the Magic shooters enough open looks at home, they are likely to blow you out.

Other News and Notes:

– Join us for a live chat during the game. 7 EST/ 6 Central.

– As usual, thanks to Dariusz for our gameday banner.

– Last time the Hornets were in Orlando, a 135-81 preseason loss that left most Hornets fans thinking that this would be a loooong season. Lesson learned, next preseason I will take nothing positive or negative from a preseason game.

– Hornets have given up 100 or more points in 7 of their last 8 games. All-Star break can’t get here soon enough.

– As you can tell, I am not to optimistic about this game and I am still reeling from back to back losses against Minny and the Nets. Cheer me up by Captioning This Pic!


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