Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) – Elfrid Payton scored 16 points and was at
the center of a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback that gave the Orlando Magic
a 105-100 win over the reeling Charlotte Hornets.
Orlando trailed by 23 points midway through the third quarter and was down
83-65 with under 11 minutes left, then outscored the Hornets 40-17 the rest
of the way to send Charlotte to a fourth consecutive defeat.
Payton had eight points down the stretch and fellow reserves Willie Green and
Ben Gordon netted nine each in the final quarter. The Magic also received 21
overall points from Evan Fournier and a 17-point, 16-rebound double-double out
of Tobias Harris.
Al Jefferson racked up 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Hornets’ latest
stinging setback. Gary Neal finished with 17 points off the bench and Kemba
Walker grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and dished out eight assists in
addition to recording 15 points.
The Hornets appeared to have the game well in hand when Walker’s second-chance
bucket with 10:47 remaining staked his team to an 18-point lead, but Orlando
roared back behind a torrid shooting display fueled by its second unit.
Gordon answered Walker’s make with six straight points to ignite a 15-4 spurt
that got the Magic right back in it, and Green later put up seven during a 9-0
flurry that forged a 93-93 tie with three minutes to play.
Orlando, which shot a sizzling 71.4 percent in the fourth quarter, kept on
charging, with Payton putting the Magic up 97-95 on a pull-up jumper with 1:30
left. Jefferson responded by making two free throws on the other end, but
Green hustled and tipped in a missed foul shot from Payton to send Orlando
back ahead with 57.2 seconds to go.
The Hornets came up empty on their next two possessions, and the Magic sealed
the victory on four straight free throws between Nikola Vucevic and Harris.
Charlotte had little trouble scoring in the first half, building a 51-40
advantage behind 14 points from Jefferson and a 52.5 percent field goal
percentage through the opening two quarters.
The Hornets quickly increased the margin by scoring seven straight points to
begin the third quarter, and the lead swelled to 70-47 just over five minutes
into the period after an 11-3 run in which Gerald Henderson accounted for five
Orlando finished 23-of-32 from the foul line, compared to a 9-of-15 effort
from the Hornets … Walker’s 12 rebounds were a career high … Payton tied a
career best in scoring, also registering 16 points against Toronto on Nov. 1
… Hornets backup center Bismack Biyombo blocked six shots in just 12 minutes
of playing time … The Magic scored 60 of their 105 points in the paint.