NEW ORLEANS, La. --- If this isn't rock bottom, what is?
Continuing to have trouble scoring even when not playing against the Boston Celtics, the Magic (12-7) are suddenly, desperately looking for answers after losing three of their last four games.
After two devastating losses during the week to the Celtics --- one an offensive brown-out, the other a monumental collapse --- the Magic expected an easier time against the Hornets. They came in at 3-15 and lugging a nine-game losing streak.
"It's the whole thing. We were awful…three worst losses we've had since I've been here over a matter of five days. It's tough to take," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
"We were sitting at 11-4 and playing well. All of a sudden – other than the Indiana game --- we're falling apart."
Forward Earl Clark summed up an evening of horrid basketball, watching his fast-break dunk clang off the back of the rim as Hornets fans howled with laughter.
"We just didn't play. We laid down," shooting guard Jason Richardson said.
The Magic shot just 39.3 percent while allowing the Hornets to hit 50.6 percent. Orlando has now failed to score 20 points in each of the last six quarters.
They turned over the ball 23 times (for 28 Hornets points), played poorly on the defensive end and looked tired, out-hustled and out-played by the scrappy, rebuilding Hornets.
The Hornets obviously saw the Celtics apply physical and pressure defense, and did a good job imitating Boston without Boston's talent.
The home crowd had something to cheer, and rewarded the Hornets with a standing ovation late in the fourth quarter as the lead grew to 24. For their forlorn fans still missing Chris Paul, this was the Big Easy.
Starting point guard Jameer Nelson left the game in the third quarter and will not return, complaining of a sore jaw. He was hit in the head earlier in the game.
Van Gundy said Nelson told him he was OK.
The Magic never got going and never made a serious run, falling behind 47-34 at halftime.
They allowed the Hornets to shot 47.6 percent after the first two quarters and also committed 11 turnovers for 17 points.
"We were very sloppy," Van Gundy said. "We were very bad. But give them credit, they were very good."
Orlando, held to a franchise-low 56 points in Boston on Monday night, had just 58 points with five minutes remaining against New Orleans.
Dwight Howard led the Magic in scoring with 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting. A telling stat: No other Magic player broke into double figures, and the backcourt of Nelson and Richardson combined for 2-of-10 for two points each. Hedo Turkoglu was listless, going 1-of-7 for three points.
One truly amazing stat: Howard has shot 17 free throws, making 10, but no other Magic player stepped to the line until Duhon was fouled with about two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the rout.
Second-year center Daniel Orton saw his first NBA action after an injury-plagued rookie season, replacing Howard with three minutes to play. He had was called for goal-tending on a block attempt in his first play as a pro.