CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 21 (Ticker) -- Brevin Knight
much needed win for the Charlotte Bobcats and a blow to the
playoff hopes of the Orlando Magic.
Knight converted a three-point play with 12 seconds left and the
Bobcats overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to post a 102-97
victory over the shorthanded Magic.
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"He's a floor general," Charlotte rookie forward Emeka Okafor
said. "He can go out there and score when he needs to. He
thinks pass first, shoot second, but he can hit the shot when he
needs to and did tonight for us."
With the Bobcats (13-52) nursing 97-95 lead in the closing
seconds, Knight let the shot clock wind down inside 10 seconds
before making a move on rookie guard Jameer Nelson
Knight dribbled hard to his right and took a bump before lofting
in a runner in the lane over Dwight Howard
. He converted the
free throw to give the Bobcats a 100-95 lead.
"The first half we had a little success with the 1-4 flat
(offense)," Knight said. "So we thought, Why not try it again?
I knew once I got the step on him that he'd (Nelson) have to
body and foul. The next thing was just trying to concentrate and
get the ball up to the rim. It went in, so it turned out to be
a good play for us."
"(Brevin) is a stabilizer with the ball in his hands," Charlotte
coach Bernie Bickerstaff
said. "His teammates have confidence
in him. We wanted the ball in his hands. The confidence is
that he is going to make a play for his teammates and himself."
Orlando (32-35) had a 55-44 halftime lead thanks to All-Star
and rookie Dwight Howard
. Hill had 20 points and
Howard 19 at the break, more than making up for the absence of
star guard Steve Francis
, who was serving the second game of a
In the second half, the Bobcats outscored the Magic, 58-42, and
limited Hill and Howard to a combined seven points. Hill
finished with 25 points and Howard 21.
"The Bobcats got the momentum in the third quarter and we lost
it after that," Hill said. "We really need rest so we can get
ready for Thursday's game. But give it to the Bobcats, they
just came out on top."
"There was a contrast in the first half and second half,"
Bickerstaff said. "Grant Hill and Dwight Howard had a field day
in the first half. So we did a much better job of paying
attention to them. We were in quicksand in the first half and
didn't make the commitment to get back on defense."
Knight scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and
added eight assists. Okafor scored 10 of his 17 points in the
second half and grabbed 13 rebounds for his 35th double-double
of the season.
"They played harder in the second half," Nelson said. "We can't
play only one half of good basketball."
"We all just stuck together and focused in on the victory,"
Okafor said. "We didn't really have all those ticky-tack
mistakes that we usually have. We just kept our resolve on the
Orlando came in tied with Philadelphia for the eighth and final
playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but could not separate
itself, losing for the second time in three games against
Charlotte. The teams play again Thursday in Orlando.
"I told them we gave a great effort, but that we played (only) a
half game of a basketball game," Orlando interim coach Chris Jent
said. "We look back sometimes and say, 'We can,' but there
is no more 'We can.' It's now 'We have to.' That is where we
are right now."
"As a team, we need to run the floor, share the ball and play
team defense," Howard said. "If we do those three things, we
will be a tough team to beat."
The Bobcats continued to play shorthanded with just nine
available players. They lost guard Keith Bogans
to back spasms
late in the first half and shuttled Knight in and out on the
defensive end due to back spasms of his own.
"We've been playing with eight, nine guys all year," Knight
said. "We're kind of veterans to that."
The Bobcats won for just the second time this month.
"It's good to get a win," Okafor said. "We definitely needed
this win. We really played hard and Brevin did his thing tonight
and really helped us pull it out."