Magic Hit Another Road Bump in Charlotte
Charlotte 108, Orlando 102
CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 21 (Ticker) -- Gerald Wallace and the Charlotte Bobcats were the reason the Orlando Magic fell short once again on the road. This time, it went into the history books.
Wallace scored 18 of his 27 points in the first half and Primoz Brezec added 22 as the Bobcats jumped ahead early and held on late for a 108-102 victory over the Magic, who have lost a franchise-record 16 consecutive road contests.
"I wish I had the remedy for this," Orlando guard Keyon Dooling said. "Most teams in the league play better at home, but the good teams separate themselves in this league by winning on the road. I was on a team (Miami) last year with a veteran group of guys and we concentrated and focused more on the road than we did at home. We're a young team and we've still got a lot to learn."
"It was an embarrassing performance," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "We didn't come out, we didn't play hard, we didn't give this team any respect and we got our butts kicked in the process. You can't play one half of basketball and expect to win a basketball game."
Charlotte appeared to decide Orlando's fate early as it shot 51 percent from the field in the first half and opened a 69-51 lead. The Bobcats created the cushion with a 15-4 run to start the second quarter and never trailed in the game.
"We started off pushing the ball," Wallace said. "Got a lot of easy shots, got in the passing lane, played aggressive defense and as a result of that, we were getting a lot of easy stuff and forcing them to do things that they didn't want to do."
The Magic opened the third period with a 14-4 surge, pulling within 73-65 on Dwight Howard's layup. Orlando closed the gap after three periods to six, 85-79, on a Dooling layup.
"We just came out slow," Howard said. "We came out with the energy that we needed in the second half, but we didn't come out like we were ready to play tonight. We can't do that if we want to win."
Orlando continued chipping away and eventually got within 99-95 on a jumper by Dooling with 1:35 left.
"We made it hard again," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We're sitting on top of the mountain again and we don't recognize it. We allow little things to take us out of it. We have to be above those things."
On the ensuing possession, Charlotte's Jumaine Jones, who scored 13 points, drained a 3-pointer from the corner. It was the 31st straight game in which Jones has knocked down a three-point basket for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats sank 6-of-8 free throws in the final moments to prevent a four-game sweep vs. the Magic this season.
"You can't spot a team a 20-point lead and expect to win," Hill said. "I'm disappointed in our performance and I'm embarrassed and I hope our players are because they should be."
Wallace made a career-best 12 baskets on 22 shots and added four steals and two blocks. Bernard Robinson had 17 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and six assists and rookie Raymond Felton added 16 and a season-high 13 assists for the Bobcats, who ended a four-game slide.
"I'm just trying to get everybody involved," said Felton, who had eight assists before the break. "I knew that we needed everybody in order to win the game. I was trying to get everybody involved, get everybody going, and that's what happened."
Hedo Turkoglu had 24 points and nine assists and Jameer Nelson added 19 and eight for the Magic, who have not won on the road since Jan. 26 at Philadelphia. Howard collected 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Orlando hosts former guard Steve Francis and the New York Knicks on Wednesday in the first matchup between the teams since their trade February 22.
"He is going to come in with the mind-set to go to work on us," Howard said. "We are just going to have to go out there, have fun and play hard. We are going to try to go out there and and beat the New York Knicks, not necessarily Steve Francis."