Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images
The Orlando Magic have had a number of bad losses this season.
A lazy 11-point loss to the Detroit Pistons on January 2 springs to mind. So do two epic fails against the Boston Celtics in the span of a week in late January; first putting up a franchise-worst 56 points on the road, then blowing a 27-point lead at home. Can’t forget about the Magic’s 26-point drubbing at the hands of the lowly New Orleans Hornets on January 27 either.
So it’s hard to say where Orlando’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, owners of the worst record in the NBA (was 4-31 but now is 5-31), ranks on the list but it’s certainly a bad loss. That much is certain.
What’s amazing is that for most of the first half, the Magic were in complete control of the game. Offensively, everything was coming easy for Orlando. Perhaps too easy in retrospect. The Magic were nailing their three-pointers and balancing that with easy baskets at the rim. On the flipside, the Bobcats were doing everything they could to get blown out of the game — silly turnovers, taking (and missing) bad shots, you name it.
At one point in the second quarter, Orlando was up by as many as 20 points. Then Charlotte slowly began to chip away.
However, after head coach Paul Silas got ejected with 3:53 left in the period after arguing a call in which Corey Maggette attacked the basket and got knocked down with no foul called (Hedo Turkoglu was credited with a block), Ryan Anderson made both technical free-throws to push the Magic’s lead back to 16 points. It seemed like order was being restored. Orlando let their guard down a bit but the Bobcats seemed content to continue committing mental gaffes.
Instead, Silas’ ejection seemed to spark Charlotte and that’s when the game changed. Immediately after Silas left the game, the Bobcats went on a 22-1 run that stretched into the third quarter and spanned nearly six minutes on the game clock. All of a sudden, Charlotte could do no wrong.
For nearly the remainder of the evening, the Magic exchanged leads with the Bobcats.
With the score at 84-82 in Charlotte’s favor with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter after Dwight went one of two from the free-throw line, that’s when Gerald Henderson stepped up to allow the Bobcats to put a stranglehold on the game. Matched up against J.J. Redick, Henderson drew a shooting foul on the fellow Dukie on back-to-back possessions as he went up for a shot along the right baseline. His first shot attempt was a fadeaway on the right block after he posted up Redick, which he made. The second jumper for Henderson was more academic, as he faced up Redick near the right wing, dribbled baseline, then pulled up for a jumper. Both times Henderson drew contact on Redick.
At that point, even though Henderson couldn’t convert at the free-throw line for a three-point play on either possession, Charlotte created enough distance to pull away from Orlando.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
This was a vintage Corey Maggette performance. At his best, his midrange jumper is falling and he’s attacking the rim as well as drawing fouls. All those elements were on display against the Magic.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Orlando seemed to think that they could show up and win simply because the Bobcats are the worst team in the league. When you play with that mentality, you’re going to lose in the NBA.
Lost in the rubble of the Magic’s loss was Bismack Biyombo’s defense against Dwight. A night after torching Aaron Gray and Jamaal Magloire, Biyombo put up much stiffer resistance defensively against Dwight.