Magic Hand Bobcats 11th Consecutive Loss
The Bobcats are a curious franchise these days. New Charlotte Head Coach Mike Dunlap had his squad at a 7-5 record not that long ago, matching their win total from the entire 66-game Lockout season. Coming into Saturday night, Charlotte lost 10 straight contests and had not won a game since November 24th. Then again, Charlotte’s top four best scorers are guards as they’re lacking frontcourt assistance. After two losses to Atlanta this season, Orlando notched their first Southeast division victory by disposing of the Bobcats 107-98 to improve to 10-13. They’ve sunk Charlotte down to a 7-16 record in the process. Orlando is now 4-0 when they shoot over 50% from the field. The Magic owned the painted area by gobbling up twelve more boards than their opponent.
JJ Redick struggled mightily from the perimeter, but ‘Redickulous’ would drill a crucial 3-pointer with 2:57 remaining to put Orlando up 98-93. Back-to-back buckets from Jameer, along with an ‘And 1’ Vucevic thunder jam, and it was time to gas up the jet and return to the City Beautiful with all smiles. Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis led Orlando with 20 points each. ‘Vooch’ earned his 9th double-double of the season as he tallied 13 points and 13 boards. Jameer finished with 16 points and Redick fourteen. Massive 8-point bench contributions out of Andrew Nicholson and Gustavo Ayon as well.
Orlando did two notable things to begin the game: They attacked the paint constantly against a Charlotte squad that has no imposing interior defensive threat, and Jacque Vaughn went to his bench early and often to avoid fatigue playing a factor with this being a back-to-back scenario. JJ Redick still gets booed in Time Warner Cable Arena because he’s a Duke alum, and apparently the majority of Bobcat season ticket holders are Tar Heel fans. JJ would get the last laugh when it was all said and done. The Magic were ahead 29-21 after one period as ball movement and close-proximity shots contributed to their splendid 56.5 FG%.
The Magic rode their ‘senior’ members for scoring in the first half. Orlando led 56-48 at the half despite the Bobcats waking up. Jameer poured in 12 points, eleven from Glen, and eight bench points from Redick in those initial 24 minutes. The Magic’s 23-16 rebound advantage was the main difference in maintaining that locker room cushion. It was all about continuous penetration and paint exploitation that led to open 3-point looks.
Jameer found himself on the bench with 4 personal fouls just four minutes into the third period. Charlotte would claim a 67-66 lead at the 5:17 mark. Orlando couldn’t attack the paint with co-captain Nelson on the bench, and the open 3-point looks the Magic still managed to create would not go down. The Bobcats amped up their defensive pressure and force fed transition points down the Magic’s throats. Jacque got his men re-focused and began causing damage in the paint once more with Nicholson and Ayon. Afflalo’s ‘game face’ was extra angry than usual as he helped fuel an 8-0 run that contributed to Orlando’s 81-77 lead heading into the 4th period.
It’s not often that Coach Vaughn has to deal with Redick missing wide open 3-pointers as well as Jameer having 5 personal fouls with 10:18 remaining in a contest, but that’s what the situation presented. Orlando had to find ways to weather Charlotte’s traps without the sure hands and dribbling skills of Jameer. Vaughn would roll the dice and throw Jameer back in with 6:16 remaining in the game with his team still up four. It would pay off. Afflalo gave Magic fans a scare as he would crumble to the ground on defense with 3:27 to play, hurting and holding his knee after tripping on Glen Davis. Arron displayed his warrior mentality for all to see and would check back in the next dead ball. Question his shot selection or dribbling skills, but don’t take away this guy’s tough as nails attitude.
The Magic depended on their veterans to clinch the victory, and they survived a career-high 32 points from Kemba Walker. Orlando takes on Minnesota at Amway Center on Monday. The Timberwolves will have the exciting Ricky Rubio available and playing just his second game of the season.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.