Charlotte Bobcats @ Orlando Magic


After losing two straight road games, the Orlando Magic return home to host the Charlotte Bobcats Friay night.

The Bobcats have won four straight games to improve to 32-42 and are just a game behind the Indiana Pacers for the eight seed (tied in the loss column).

The Magic are 47-28.

These teams have met twice this season with the Magic winning both meetings.

On November 6, the Magic defeated the Bobcats in Charlotte in a tough, hard fought game, 91-88. Dwight Howard had 22 points and eight rebounds. They played again on February 27 and the Magic cruised to a 100-86 victory despite Stephen Jackson’s 35 points. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 10 boards in just 33 minutes to lead the Magic.

The Bobcats are 25th in pace (92.2), 25th in offensive efficiency (100.5) and 16th in defensive efficiency (104.3)

The game will be shown locally on Fox Sports Florida. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.

Tip off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.

The Line: Orlando – 12.0, 185u


Charlotte Bobcats

Kwame Brown
Boris Diaw
Dante Cunningham
Gerald Henderson
D.J. Augustin

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Brandon Bass
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

Stephen Jackson (strained left hamstring), Shaun Livingston (broken tailbone) and Tyrus Thomas (sore ribs/left knee) are all expected to miss the game.

J.J. Redick continues to sit out with abdomen problems. Chris Duhon remains out with a thumb injury and Gilbert Arenas will join them on the bench with flulike symptoms.

Quentin Richardson (back spasms) is expected to return after participating in shootaround Friday.

The officials will be Derrick Stafford, Bennie Adams and Kane Fitzgerald.

Of Note: These teams met in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. Orlando swept the Bobcats despite their being a few closely contested games.  The Magic have won 12 of the last 14 meetings and are 18-8 against Charlotte all-time (11-2 at home). Magic guard Jason Richardson has appeared in 96 career games for the Bobcats. Dwight Howard had a career-high 45-point game against the Bobcats on February 17, 2009.

Opponent To Watch: D.J. Augustin, G – With so many injuries, it’s going to be up to Augustin to not only create for his teammates but pick up the slack scoring-wise along with Boris Diaw. Augustin and former point guard Raymond Felton were embarrassed by Jameer Nelson in the postseason last year and if Augustin lets that happen again, this one could get ugly. Augustin is averaging 14.2 points per game on just 41.8% shooting this season. In two games against Orlando this season, he’s averaged just 10.0 points per game  on 44.4% shooting. He’ll clearly need to put up better numbers Friday night.

What To Watch For: The Bobcats were an elite defensive team last season. That isn’t the case this year. Their defense has regressed while their offense hasn’t really improved. Trading their best player, Gerald Wallace, didn’t help matters, yet they still find themselves in the thick of the playoff race. Hedo Turkoglu is going to have to log plenty of minutes at point guard with Arenas and Duhon out. He’s more than capable of doing so. Both teams are riddled with injuries but Orlando should be able to pretty much shut down the Bobcats’ offense.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).