Eleven games into the Paul Silas era, the Charlotte Hornets have gone from also-rans to playoff hopefuls.
Losers of 11 of their first 15 games before coach Dave Cowens resigned and was replaced by Silas earlier this month, the Hornets have been on a steady comeback ever since.
A 90-82 victory over Orlando on Friday night was Charlotte's seventh under Silas and moved the Hornets within four games of the .500 mark.
"We still need to make up some ground, but the playoffs are a realistic goal," Charlotte center Elden Campbell said. "It's going to be tough, but we'll find out a lot about ourselves between now and the end of the season."
The Hornets blew a 22-point lead Friday night before finding out a lot about Campbell's leadership capabilities. Campbell had six points and a block as the Hornets closed the game with a 12-4 run for their seventh consecutive victory at home.
"He's very confident right now. He's responding," Silas said of Campbell, who finished with 24 points, six rebounds and five blocks.
It was the latest strong performance by a player who was part of the five-player deal March 10 in which Campbell and Eddie Jones were sent from the Lakers to Charlotte and Glen Rice was shipped to Los Angeles.
"I have nothing to prove to anybody," Campbell said. "I just want to do what I can to make the Hornets feel good about their decision to trade for me, to prove these guys right."
Charlotte, winning for the fifth time in six games, got double-figure scoring from five players, including 17 from Jones and 15 from Derrick Coleman.
The Hornets shot 70 percent in the first quarter, helping build a 38-16 lead early in the second. Orlando erased the deficit with a 19-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.
The Magic tied it twice, the last time at 78-all on a short jumpe by Nick Anderson with 3:54 left.
Campbell started the decisive run with two free throws and added a reverse layup as Charlotte built an 83-78 lead. Orlando got no closer than four the rest of the way.
Anderson finished with 17 points to lead the Magic. Orlando rookie Matt Harpring matched his season high with 16 points but was scoreless in the fourth quarter. Anfernee Hardaway, Orlando's No. 2 scorer, did not get his first points until the third quarter and finished with eight on 3-for-11 shooting.
"Our first group struggled. They looked flat and tired," Orlando coach Chuck Daly said. "The Hornets came out alive and made shots. We were outshot and outrebounded, and we didn't contest shots. Maybe we learned a lesson."
Notes: The crowd of 21,698 included Hornets owner George Shinn, who rarely attends games anymore. Shinn recently moved to Florida and is the defendant in a sexual misconduct lawsuit in South Carolina. ... Charlotte small forward Bobby Phills left with a groin pull early in the fourth quarter and did not return. ... Orlando has lost four of six to the Hornets, whose victory evened the series 17-17. ... The game was stopped several times after confetti fell from the rafters near the basket in front of the Hornets' bench. Charlotte Coliseum officials said the confetti was left over from a Rolling Stones concert last weekend.
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