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Charlotte Hornets rally to stun Orlando Magic in OT

By Tim Povtak, The Sports Xchange

ORLANDO -- Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker is playing like an NBA All-Star. He might just become one when the coaches start casting their ballots.

Walker had his second dominating game of the week Friday night, leading the Charlotte Hornets to a 120-116 overtime victory over the stunned Orlando Magic.

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Walker had 40 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals, sparking them throughout the come-from-behind victory. He had a franchise-record 52 points, nine rebounds and eight assists on Monday when the Hornets beat Utah in double overtime.

"I don't know if I've ever had a teammate have a week like this before," said veteran forward Marvin Williams, who had 11 points and 14 rebounds. "It was big play after big play. He just did whatever it takes to win these games."

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Walker had 13 points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter when the Hornets erased the Magic's 18-point lead and sent the game into overtime. He scored eight in the final two minutes of regulation.

It was his fourth game of more than 30 points since Christmas. In that stretch, he has averaged 27 points, the most points of guard in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm playing pretty well right now, but I'm letting the game come to me. I'm just playing basketball, and doing everything I can to help us win games," he said. "All the hard work is paying off. No one in the league works any harder than I do. If this leads to the All-Star Game, that's great, but I'm not worried about that."

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The Hornets (20-23) have two of three this week and return home Saturday to play the Knicks. The Magic (20-22) have lost nine of their last 10 games.

"It really sucks to be up 16-18 in the fourth and let it slip away," said Magic center Nikola Vucevic. "All you have to do is finish the game, and it hurts to fall apart like that. We really could have used this one, but we didn't finish the game."

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Reserve Troy Daniels had 17 points. Center Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Hawes hit the 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining for the 118-116 lead. Reserve Brian Roberts had 11 points.

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The Magic were led by Victor Oladipo with 29 points. Tobias Harris had 22 points. Vucevic had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Evan Fournier had 15 points. Point guard Elfrid Payton contributed 11 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Oladipo gave the Magic a 116-115 lead with 26 seconds remaining when he hit a layup after stealing the ball from Walker. Hawes scored to retake the lead. Walker finished the game with a pair of free throws.

"Kemba pretty much went by us at will," Magic coach Scott Skiles said. "They turned up the heat down the stretch and we just got away from what was working earlier. In our last 20 possessions, we either took bad shot or turned the ball over."

The Hornets outscored the Magic 30-15 in the fourth quarter and 11-7 in overtime.

Oladipo sent the game into overtime by hitting a 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds remaining. The Hornets had made a 19-3 run late in the fourth quarter for the 109-106 lead. The Magic committed nine turnovers and made just five of 19 shots in the fourth quarter when they blew the 18-point lead.

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Roberts scored nine points for Charlotte in a 13-0 run late in the fourth quarter that cut the Magic lead to 103-101. Walker hit a layup with :29 remaining for Charlotte's 107-106 lead, their first lead in the second half.

The Magic led 94-79 going into the final period and led by 18 points early in the quarter.

Oladipo hit four 3-pointers in the third period when the Magic rushed to an 89-70 lead, their largest of the game. The Magic had opened a 73-60 lead early in the third period with a 9-0 run that included back-to-back baskets from Vucevic.

The Magic led, 61-55, at intermission, riding a hot-shooting start and 13 points from Fournier, his first game this season as a reserve. He started the first 41 and averaged 13.6 points per game.

The Magic made 23 of 39 shots (59 percent) in the first half. Harris had 12 points and Oladipo had 10. Payton had six assists in the opening quarter when the Magic led, 35-30.

Magic forward Aaron Gordon, in his first start this season, committed three fouls in the first four minutes, went to the bench and didn't return until the second half.

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Walker led all scorers with 15 points in the first half. The Hornets committed just three turnovers in those first two periods. They led by five points in the first period. The Magic led by as many as 10 points in the second.

NOTES: Magic coach Scott Skiles said it did not shock him to see the Cavs fire coach David Blatt on Friday despite having the best record in the Eastern Conference. "Nowadays, you can be Coach of the Year and get fired," said Skiles, who has been fired by three NBA teams. "It's just the way things have gone in my profession." ... Both teams came in struggling to find a win. The Hornets had lost 10 of their previous 12, and the Magic had lost eight of their last nine. ... Magic G Victor Oladipo returned after a two-game absence (sprained knee) and replaced Evan Fournier in the starting lineup. F Aaron Gordon replaced Channing Frye and got his first start of the season for the Magic. ... The Hornets, who have struggled to stay healthy all season, were without F Cody Zeller (right shoulder strain), G/F Nic Batum (sprained toe) and C Al Jefferson (knee). They have been without G Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, their best perimeter defender, all season because of shoulder surgery in October. He is expected to start playing next month. ... The Hornets play the Knicks in Charlotte on Saturday night before leaving on a four-game West Coast trip. The Magic don't play until Monday in Memphis.

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