NBA Basketball

Hornets look to Weber for more energy against Magic

The Charlotte Hornets needed a boost.

Their season had quickly gone off the rails in January. A team with playoff hopes was now fighting for its life to achieve its goals -- all the while maintaining the kind of statistical profile that should mean a playoff appearance.

Charlotte, which plays at Orlando on Wednesday night, was losing and no one could exactly say why.

The Hornets needed a kick-start and an energy boost from someone.

In stepped Briante Weber. Signed to a 10-day contract on Feb. 27, Weber has made an impact for the Hornets in a short time. He is averaging 4.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the field in about 11.0 minutes across the six games he has played for the Hornets so far. His play landed him a second 10-day contract and then a multiyear deal.

It also got him plenty of notice from his teammates and coaches.

Teammate Marvin Williams described Weber as an "Energizer bunny" after the team's 105-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

The Hornets are 3-3 in games he plays but 2-1 in games in which he plays more than 10 minutes. That includes the recent two-game win streak.

Weber scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in 18:48 during Monday's win.

"I'm using my calling card, what got me here," Weber told David Scott of The Charlotte Observer late last week. "My defensive abilities, my tenacity. I want those things to help me stay in this league for a long time. They're what helped me get this shot."

It seems Weber has a place for the Hornets as they try to fight their way back into the playoff picture.

Energy is something that is tough to measure. But it is essential to a winning team.

The Orlando Magic have been looking for some consistent energy throughout this disappointing season. As the year winds its way to the end, the team is desperately trying to establish a base and culture to grow from.

The best place to start is to play with energy and intensity. And that is where the Magic are struggling.

Perhaps they learned that lesson in Monday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Orlando fell behind by as much as 17 points and rallied in the fourth quarter after coach Frank Vogel wrote "Energy!" on the white board in the locker room. The team won 112-109 in overtime.

"These guys just changed their energy," Vogel said after the game. "We know coming back from the West Coast there is always a little bit of dip in energy. We talked about it and addressed it and said this was not good enough.

"It is not OK to come out and settle for not having energy. You have to find it. If we're going to become a playoff-caliber team and build winning habits, that's what you have to do. You have to find energy when it's not naturally there."

That will continue to be a point of emphasis for the team as the season concludes. Getting big defensive plays from Elfrid Payton and Bismack Biyombo to help complete the comeback were critical. Whether the Magic can build on this and get a third straight win will depend on the energy they bring to the game.

Updated March 21, 2017

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