In an exciting game that went down to the wire, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 91-88 to win their third consecutive game of the regular season. After Quentin Richardson made a lefty layup in a 2/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard to put the Magic up by three points with 9.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, excellent individual defense by Mickael Pietrus on Stephen Jackson forced the Bobcats to rely on Boris Diaw to come up with a game-tying three-point shot. Unfortunately for Diaw, Howard was there to contest the three-pointer, which hit the front of the rim, and Orlando was able to come away with victory. The Magic were led by Howard, who had 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two blocks, and set the tone early with 13 of his points coming in the first quarter. Rashard Lewis finally emerged for Orlando, finishing with 22 points and six rebounds while hitting clutch shots in the final stanza.
Lewis and clutch — two words meant for each other.
Despite the pace being low and it being a low-scoring affair, this was a fun game.
With Jameer Nelson sidelined with an ankle injury, the Magic relied on Howard early and often in the first quarter to generate offense. Orlando ran 4-out/1-in offensive sets on nearly every possession in the period.
Howard did his part and produced.
[10:56] Howard makes eight-foot hook shot
[8:25] Howard dunk (Carter assist)
[7:48] Howard makes eight-foot hook shot (Duhon assist)
[6:43] Howard makes nine-foot hook shot
[5:33] Howard makes 15-foot two point shot (Duhon assist)
[5:05] Howard makes free throw 2 of 2
[2:15] Howard makes one-foot hook shot
Not shown in the play-by-play was the fact that Howard attempted four jumpers in the quarter but only made one of them, a 15-foot fadeaway that swished through the bottom of the net without touching the backboard.
In the third quarter, Carter torched the Bobcats in the 2/5 pick and roll. On one possession, Carter was able to feed Howard for a dunk after Charlotte did a poor job of rotating defensive on the pick and roll. On another possession, Carter did his best impression of Nelson and dribble penetrated into the lane, eventually finding Lewis in the corner for a wide-open three. Lastly, Carter was able to get himself involved in the pick and roll, attacking the basket with authority and making a difficult one-handed layup for the sake of humor.
Lewis has gotten a lot of heat early in the season for playing some poor basketball, but he kicked things up a notch in the same period.
[8:17] Lewis makes 17-foot jumpshot (Duhon assist)
[7:45] Lewis makes 24-foot three-point jumpshot (Carter assist)
[6:35] Lewis makes 25-foot three-point jumpshot (Duhon assist)
[6:07] Lewis makes 23-foot three-point jumpshot (Duhon assist)
Catch-and-shoot. Catch-and-shoot. Catch-and-shoot.
That’s what Lewis does when he’s at his best and on each of his three-point shots, that’s what he was able to do to help push the Magic’s lead to as much as 18 points before the Bobcats chipped away at the lead.
And even though Richardson deserves a lot of credit for stepping up in crunch-time and making a key basket for Orlando to clinch the victory, it was Lewis that was able to make two key shots in the span of a few minutes to hold Charlotte at bay as they made a furious charge. It’s the type of ice-cold buckets that Lewis has made a name for himself with the Magic.
Unfortunately for Orlando, the win came at a price as Carter injured himself at the 1:45 mark of the fourth quarter. In short, Carter tried to execute a 2/5 pick and roll with Howard at the top of the key but for whatever reason, the grounds crew for the Bobcats did a poor job of cleaning up a wet spot on the court. As such, Carter dribbled to his right and awkwardly performed a split, incurring a strained right hip flexor according to Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com. Carter is day-to-day.
The next game for the Magic is on Monday, which means Carter stands a good chance of being available to play against the Atlanta Hawks.
Let’s see what happens.