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CHARLOTTE — After Charlotte knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks on the road to open the 2020 calendar year it appeared that the Hornets had turned a corner. Seven straight losses later, the team will now head to Paris looking for answers.
With a trip to France on Friday looming, Charlotte came out hot from the floor en route to an 11-point advantage Monday afternoon at the Spectrum Center, but the Magic methodically took over and left town with a 106-83 win as the Hornets dropped to 15-30 on the campaign.
Charlotte head coach James Borrego was succinct when discussing the reasons behind the his team’s capitulation.
“We started the second quarter with not enough urgency,” Borrego said. “Some mistakes there in coverage to start the second quarter, not locked in. (Orlando) got to the rim easy, not locked in, our mistakes. There weren’t running anything tricky.”
The Hornets were led by Malik Monk off the bench with 20 points. P.J. Washington added 19 points and seven rebounds.
“Good urgency, especially in the second half,” Borrego said of Monk. “I thought he was aggressive and solid tonight.”
The Hornets and Magic were battling against familiar faces, as Borrego spent three seasons (2012-15) with Orlando — including a 30-game stint as interim head coach in 2015. Orlando head coach Steve Clifford was 196-214 in five seasons in charge of Charlotte.
“They defend,” Charlotte forward Cody Zeller said. “They really get after it on defense. They’re physical and that comes from Coach Clifford. We knew that coming in and that’s what they have been doing all year.”
As for the Hornets, according to Borrego, there will need to be a focus that extends significantly longer than 12 minutes if his team is to get out of the doldrums.
“These aren’t things that we haven’t seen or any surprises with any plays,” Borrego said. “That is strictly just horrible execution, poor awareness, lack of professionalism coming out of the second quarter.”
Charlotte returns to action on Friday with its international business trip to Paris and a matchup against title-contender Milwaukee. The Bucks are 39-6 overall, and have every appearance of a team that is marching to 70 wins.
Will the trip be just what the doctor ordered? Time will tell, but the French experience cannot be strictly for fun. Charlotte assisted on 21-of-29 field goals against Orlando, so it is an unselfish team that is looking for its teammates.
“It is still a job so you just have to go in and do your work everyday,” Washington said. “Nothing changes, just different scenery. You have got to come in and stay focused.”
Charlotte is entitled to have fun in France, but Washington’s stated approach likely will suit Borrego fine.