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Magic face reeling Hornets, look for 2nd straight win
Two teams that have seen recent plunges turn promising starts into losing records will hook up Monday when the Orlando Magic visit the Charlotte Hornets.
The Magic (10-14) will be seeking a second win in two nights, following a 105-100 triumph at New York on Sunday.
The victory was just Orlando's second in its past 12 games after an 8-4 start.
Nikola Vucevic warmed up for his duel with the Hornets' Dwight Howard by dominating the paint against the Knicks. He hit 13 of his 19 shots en route to 34 points against New York, and he also found time for 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Eight of his 34 came in a 10-0 burst that broke an 85-all, fourth-quarter tie and propelled the Magic to the much-needed win.
Equally important was an Orlando defense that hadn't allowed fewer than 105 points in its previous eight games.
"We played a solid game, made some mistakes, but we held those guys to 100," said Evan Fournier, who contributed 20 points to the win. "Could have done better, but we are headed in the right direction."
The win snapped a seven-game road losing streak for the Magic.
Meanwhile, the Hornets (8-13) have lost four in a row as they open a four-game homestand. They put up 120 points in a seven-point home win over Orlando on Oct. 29.
Charlotte's offense has dominated the Orlando defense in recent meetings. The Hornets have averaged 115.4 points while beating the Magic eight times in a row.
Kemba Walker paced the earlier win this season over the Magic with 34 points. However, he has missed Charlotte's last two games due to a bruised shoulder.
The club's leader in scoring and assists believes he will be ready to go Monday.
"It's a little sore, but everybody in the NBA is a little sore this time of year," Walker said after participating in practice on Sunday. "I'll be fine."
Michael Carter-Williams filled in for Walker in losses to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, 126-113, and the Miami Heat on Friday, 105-100. He averaged 10.5 points on 5-for-17 shooting.
The game pits two teams that are playing at a far faster pace this season than in previous years.
Few teams have been in greater transition than the Magic. They are averaging 108.0 points per game this season, the ninth most in the NBA, after ranking 27th last season at 101.1 points.
The Hornets' scoring average is up only slightly -- from 104.9 to 105.5 -- despite a significant jump in pace of play. They are averaging 98.8 possessions per 48 minutes this season (10th most in the league) after playing at a 95.7 pace last year (19th fastest).
The Magic have scored 100 or more points in 19 of their 24 games this season. They are 0-5 when held to 99 or fewer.
The Hornets have followed a similar pattern. They have topped 100 points in 14 of their 21 games. They are 0-7 when limited to double digits.
Updated December 4, 2017