The Orlando Magic overcame a sluggish second quarter and more foul trouble from Dwight Howard to earn another hard fought win over the Charlotte Bobcats 90-86, taking a near-insurmountable three games-to-nothing series lead. Jameer Nelson was fantastic for the Magic, leading the team with 32 points. Stephen Jackson led the Bobcats with 19 points.
Neither team shot the ball very well on Saturday afternoon. The ‘Cats shot an effective field goal percentage of just 45.2% while the Magic shot just 50.7%. Charlotte was only 5-of-23 from downtown. The Magic weren’t much better, going just 9-of-30.
After Wednesday’s night victory, Dwight Howard said to beat the Bobcats, you can’t allow them to score points in the paint, can’t turn the ball over and have to get to the free throw line.
Well, the Bobcats scored 38 points in the paint, the Magic turned the ball over 21 times and struggled to get to the free throw line until the fourth quarter, yet still earned a victory.
Jameer Nelson got off to a fantastic start, scoring 19 points on 7-of-7 shooting in the first quarter. He finished the game with 32 points, four steals, four rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers. His effective field goal percentage was 69% and his true shooting percentage was 71%. Nelson used the pick-and-roll to get shots off and often abused Raymond Felton off the dribble. He was aggressive and attacked the basket, but still was able to find his teammates at the approriate time. When the Bobcats went to help on Dwight Howard, Nelson was often left open and he made the Bobcats pay from long range too, going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Dwight Howard once again got into foul trouble and became very frustrated, even picking up a technical foul. Howard played just 26 minutes and fouled out. Howard finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks and three assists.
The Magic trailed 46-41 at the half and were lucky to only be down five. Orlando scored just 12 second quarter points on 5-of-19 shooting and missed all nine of their three-point attempts. The Magic turned the ball over five times in the second quarter, giving them 11 in the first half. The Maigc did play better defense in the second quarter, which helped keep them in the game. Although the Bobcats had the lead, you got the feeling that the lead should have been much bigger and that failing to create a bigger lead was going to cost them the game.
The Magic regained the lead during Jameer Nelson’s 11-point third quarter but the Bobcats ralied to tie the game as the quarter came to a close. The Magic then turned to Dwight Howard down the stretch, throwing the ball into Howard almost every trip down the court. Howard got to the free throw line nearly every possession, but could only connect on one of the two free throws each time. Although Howard was getting to the line, the rest Orlando’s offense seemed stagnant. There was a lot of standing around, which is something that the Magic can’t do. Despite picking up a dumb foul that ended Howard’s night and allowed Raymond Felton to convert a 3-point play the gave Charlotte a one-point lead, he really made his presence known in the fourth quarter. Howard scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked five shots in the fourth quarter. With the Magic trailing by one and Howard out of the game, Rashard Lewis went to the basket and drew fouls on consecutive poessions. He knocked down all four free throws to give the Magic a three-point lead. The Magic got a couple of important stops down the stretch and followed it up with two clutch free throws by Vince Carter and three clutch free throws by Marcin Gortat to close the game out.
Carter had a night to forget. He shot just 4-of-11 from the field, missed all four of his 3-point attempts, was without an assist and turned the ball over five times. He finished with 10 points. On the plus side, Carter did look more active at times. His defense wasn’t bad and he managed to grab five rebounds. He also hit two big free throws to give the Magic a three point lead with 23 seconds to play.
In fact, all of Orlando’s wings did a good job on the defensive end. Larry Hughes scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting for the ‘Cats, but Charlotte’s two best players and starting wings, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, combined to shoot just 10-of-30 from the field and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. Orlando did a good job of keeping them out of the paint, forcing Wallace and Jackson to take tough shots all game.
Gortat, on the other hand, continued to put his poor game 1 behind him and did a nice job filling in for Dwight Howard. Gortat will be remembered Saturday for making three of his four free throws in the last 15 seconds of the game, but he did some other things very well. Gortat protected the paint and challenged shots while grabbing eight rebounds in only 22 minutes.
- Each team made 31 field goals.
- Bobcats Center Theo Ratliff picked up three fouls within the first thre minutes and played just nine minutes in the game.
- Outside of Gortat, Orlando’s bench was dissapointing – they scored just 14 points.
- Charlotte had 38 points in the paint to Orlando’s 28.
- Each team had four players in double figures.
- Brandon Bass made his first Magic playoff appearance late in the second quarter. He played just two minutes and did not record any stats.
Next Up: The Magic will look to close out the series on Monday night in Charlotte.
Final Thought: The Magic still haven’t played all that well, but now have a 3-0 series lead.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, 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).
Topics: 2010 Nba Playoffs, Brandon Bass, Charlotte Bobcats, Defensive Player Of The Year, Dwight Howard, Gerald Wallace, Jameer Nelson, Jason Williams, JJ Redick, Larry Brown, Marcin Gortat, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Orlando Magic, Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Stephen Jackson, Vince Carter