Game 2: Charlotte Bobcats @ Orlando Magic


The Magic will look to take a two-games-to-nothing series lead when they host the Charlotte Bobcats at 7:00 pm EST on Wednesday night. The game will be carried locally by FSN Florida and nationally by TNT.


Charlotte Bobcats

Theo Ratliff

Boris Diaw

Gerald Wallace

Stephen Jackson

Raymond Felton

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard

Rashard Lewis

Matt Barnes

Vince Carter

Jameer Nelson

The Line: Orlando – 9.0

In game one, Dwight Howard absolutely dominated the paint defensively while he was in the game, but the physical nature of the game got Howard into foul trouble and was only able to play 28 minutes. Howard not only needs to stay on the court but he needs to get the ball in his hands. One of Howard’s biggest improvements this season has been the way he has handled double-teams, which is something he did not do as good of a job of on Sunday night.

“I sort of went away from Dwight because we weren’t executing out of the double teams,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters after Sunday’s game. “So I think we’ve got some things we can do better offensively.”

“If he (Howard) gets it deep and gets a good spot, they’re going to hammer him,” Van Gundy explained. “We’ve got to get him the ball and he’s got to make plays out of double teams, which he can do.”

Van Gundy didn’t put all of the blame on Howard, but knows Howard still needs work.

“I think our guys have to be a little bit better with their spacing and then he’s got to make free throws,” Van Gundy added.

Ben Q. Rock mentioned working the ball inside among his keys to game 2.

If Howard does get into foul trouble again, the Magic are going to need a lot more energy from Marcin Gortat. He looked lethargic and was not challenging shots like he usually does. The Bobcats were having their way inside the paint and that helped them cut a 22-point deficit to just four.

Obviously, Vince Carter had his struggles, but Van Gundy did not appear worried.

Rashard Lewis was more aggressive in game 1. He shot 8-of-11 from the field, making five of six two-point attempts. Lewis finished the game with 19 points. The Magic would love for Lewis to be even more aggressive on offense.

Lewis offered up his thoughts on how the Magic could play better offensively in game 2.

“You’ve got to execute on the offensive end, move the ball around,” Lewis said.

When Jason Williams was in the game, the Bobcats forced the Magic to run their half court offense and the ball became stagnant. Williams, who is usually excellent at getting his teammates involved,  held the ball too long and took a couple of ill-advised shots.  Williams needs to be more aggressive.

The Magic did get some good production out of their bench with backup wings J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus combining to score 24 points. The Magic would love to continue to get instant offense off of the bench.

Matt Barnes was not much of a factor in game 1. He only attempted two shots and grabbed three rebounds in just 21 minutes of play. Mickael Pietrus’ shooting had a lot to do with that, but the Magic must find a productive way to use Barnes on the offensive end. He is very good at cutting to the basket and his 3-point shot has been much better over the second half of the season. The Magic have to take advantage of this.

The Bobcats, on the other hand, have played the disrespect card.

“Yesterday, Orlando took the day off. That’s how seriously they’re taking us,” Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown told his team.

Bobcats’ wings Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson have accepted the challenge to attack the basket even more. Wallace claimed he was not intimidated by Howard at all.

Orlando’s perimeter players must defend better. Even when Howard was in the game, the Bobcats got by the Magic defenders too often.

“We’ve got to do a better job on the ball defensively and we’ve got to do a better job of our initial line of help,” Van Gundy said. “Dwight will be back there to block but they can’t be coming at him 25 or 30 times a game. It’s just going to be tough to avoid fouls in that situation.”

Van Gundy wasn’t exactly pleased with Orlando’s game 1 performance but he did find some positives to use in game 2.

“I think it was a good day from that standpoint, that we got a real good effort out of them,” Van Gundy explained. And they really got to experience the way they’re going to play and still got out of here with a win, and knowing that we need to be better on Wednesday.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).