Magic Fall Farther, Lose to Bobcats
The Orlando Magic fell to the Charlotte Bobcats 114-108. The game was billed as The Toilet Bowl, The Tank Bowl, and The Lottery Bowl going in, and for Magic fans, it certainly lived up to those titles and more. The 1st quarter was great if you are a Magic fan, the other 3 quarters… not so great. The rookies played well but ran out of gas down the stretch. There have been quite a few highlights this season for this young team, but tonight won’t be included.
The contest got off to a great start for Orlando. Coach Vaughn went outside the box a bit and started DeQuan Jones at the off-guard position. Jones confusingly got very little action against the Heat on Monday night, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him starting, but the move seemed to inject a little life in the team early on. Kyle O’Quinn was huge tonight, finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists – all career highs. Tobias Harris led the team in scoring with 29 points, another career high. Moe Harkless tallied 18 points and all three played over 42 minutes.
Jameer Nelson and O’Quinn were carving up the Bobcats on the pick and roll. Jameer finished the night with a double-double of his own with 13 points and 11 dimes. The Magic had a 39-20 lead at the end of the 1st quarter, and this game looked well in hand.
The second quarter started the Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson show. Both would finish with 34 points a piece. The Magic had little answer for either, and once the landslide started it was impossible to stop. In case there may be children reading this, I’ll leave out the gory details. Down the stretch, neither team could stop each other and it seemed whoever had the ball last would win, but then the Magic inexplicably abandoned the Nelson-O’Quinn pick and roll and went to Beno Udrih on the point, playing Jameer off the ball. Three straight possessions of reckless drives into the lane and shot clock saving heaves put the Bobcats up for good. As if the night couldn’t get any worse, an alley-oop to Josh McRoberts for a monster dunk sealed the loss.
The “tankcity” crowd surely is happy with tonights result, giving the Magic a chance at a few more ping pong balls. The optimists should feel good about how the rookies played tonight. Tobias and Moe are cornerstones of the rebuild, and their play lately has been significantly improved.
But there are some disturbing issues to take away from tonights game also. I worry about the effect of losing on the young guys. Expectations were low going into this season, but this team has gone through many close, tough losses. The schedule the rest of the way is brutal, there won’t be many more chances to get another win. It’s just a late March game against another bad team, but how much would it have helped the psyche of these guys for Coach Vaughn to play Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu just a few minutes to give some guys a breather? How much would it have helped to go back to the pick and roll with Jameer and KOQ in the 4th, instead of dusting off Udrih to play the point? I know its nit-picky to say this after the fact, but I’ve watched this young team play its guts out this year, and selfishly I’d like to see them have a little bit more to show for it.
Next up the Magic play the Wizards Friday night at Amway. Tip is 7pm.
Matt Jensen is new to the MBO team and a proud contributing writer. He operates as MBO’s Sr. Sioux Falls Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter here
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