Charlotte Snaps Orlando’s Winning Streak


For the fourth time this season, the Charlotte Bobcats gave the Orlando Magic all they could handle. But on Sunday, unlike the first three games, the Bobcats outplayed the Magic down the stretch and came away with a 96-89 victory. Dwight Howard, who was one of three Magic players to score at least 20 points, finished with 27 points, 16 rebounds and 2 blocks. Stephen Jackson had 28 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists to lead the Bobcats.


Basketball Stats

According to Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy, the Magic couldn’t do anything right.

“We weren’t very good at anything today,” Van Gundy told reporters during his postgame press conference. “We didn’t rebound, we didn’t take care of the ball, we didn’t shoot well, we didn’t defend, we just weren’t very good at anything.”

It’s hard to disagree with Van Gundy. The Magic were dominated on the glass even though Dwight Howard grabbed 16 rebounds with six coming on the offensive end. His teammates combined to grab just 18 rebounds while the Bobcats pulled down 46 rebounds, including 12 offensive boards.

The Magic had absolutey no answer for veteran guard Stephen Jackson. Jackson, who has proven to be arguably the best acquisition any team made during the season, scored 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Jackson was effective from the outside – he was 3-of-5 from beyond thr arc – and was effective from the inside – he got into lane, got some easy buckets and drew fouls.

Surpringsly, Orlando shot the ball very well in the first half. They were 20-of-39 from the field and hit six three-pointers. Their effective goal percentage was 59% and they scored 53 points. In the second half, the Magic shot just 13-of-33 from the field, shot 47% eFG and scored only 36 points.

Orlando did not take care of the ball at all. They turned the ball over 15 times and those 15 turnovers led to 18 Charlotte points. Several of these errors were unforced. Whether it was a traveling call on Rashard Lewis, an errant pass by Jason Williams or a strip of Dwight Howard down low, the Magic were finding ways to give the ball away. They hurt themselves in other ways too – they were called for several moving screens and on at least one occasion, it was simply due to a lack of patience. When Howard picked up a foul for a moving screen in the fourth quarter, Jameer Nelson tried to run around Howard’s screen before Howard had time to set it up, prompting the official to make the call.

Offensively, it was a three-man show for the Magic. Dwight Howard (27 points), Vince Carter (23) and Mickael Pietrus combined for 70 of Orlando’s 89 points. Those three combined to shoot 26-of-40 from the field (65.0%). The rest of the team shot 7-of-32 from the field (31.3%). The Magic made 11 three-pointers on 32 attempts and Pietrus and Carter were responsible for eight of those 11 makes (on 15 attempts). The rest of the team was just 3-of-17 from beyond the arc.

Credit must be given to these three. Howard had his way with Theo Ratliff, a former nemesis of his while Mickael Pietrus provided a great spark for the team and his shooting kept the team in the game. He hit five three-pointers and finished with 20 points. Carter kept up his efficient play, once again shot over 50% from the field (7-of-13, 65.4% eFG) and was without a turnover. Carter also grabbed 4 rebounds and got his teammates involved, leading the Magic with 6 assists.

Tough to pin this loss on those three players.

Rashard Lewis was nowhere to be found. Again. Lewis scored just 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting and grabbed just 2 rebounds. Van Gundy compared his recent slump to Carter’s January slump but pointed out a difference between the two players.

“We went through it with Vince in January and now Rashard,” Van Gundy said. “You know, he is just not playing well at all right now. You know, it’s not just the shooting, I mean, he’s not rebounding the ball, he’s just not playing with much energy. I don’t know.”

Van Gundy also said that he didn’t think Lewis was lacking confidence or passing up good looks.

“He’s just not making the shots he’s taking,” Van Gundy told reporters.

Jameer Nelson was ineffective as well. Nelson, who has played so well recently, missed a couple of easy layups and looked more like the banged-up pre-All-Star break Nelson than the All-Star level point guard we have seen recently. Nelson scored just 4 points on 2-of-10 shooting, only dished out 3 assists and had 2 turnovers.

Orlando’s bench was awful. They combined to score just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Brandon Bass, who has shown some good signs as of late, was held scoreless in just under 17 minutes of play. J.J. Redick was just 2-of-6 from the field and played just under 10 minutes, forcing Vince Carter into an increased role (he played 41 minutes, 23 seconds).

Game Notes:

  • Dwight Howard became Orlando’s second all-time leading scorer at the 10:51 mark in the third quarter.
  • Orlando came into the game with an eight-game winning streak, their longest streak since 2001.
  • Charlotte has now won six games in a row.
  • It was Howard’s league-leading 53rd double-double this season.
  • Matt Barnes missed the game due to a sprained left big toe.
  • The Magic had won nine straight home games before suffering this loss. The streak dated back to March 24, 2005.
  • The Magic are now 17-13 in back-to-backs and 7-8 in the second game.

Next Up: The Magic get a few days off before hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

Final Thought: As Dwight Howard said after the game, “You can’t win them all.” All the Magic can do is regroup and come out with a much better effort on Wednesday.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).