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Keys to Beat Magic, Heat and Raptors

By Shane Skeary, bobcats.com

January 17, 2014

KEY MATCHUP vs. MAGIC: Gerald Henderson vs. Victor Oladipo

Steve Clifford’s Cats usually thrive when the “Big 3” of Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson are productive on the offensive end. Henderson had an off night on Jan. 15 against the Sixers, shooting 2-for-14 from the field, resulting in just eight points. It is only the second time in the last 31 games that Henderson hasn’t finished in double-figures for the Cats. Henderson will get a chance to rebound as he takes on rookie Victor Oladipo, who is coming off his best performance on what is already an impressive rookie season… In a triple-overtime loss against Chicago on Jan. 15, Oladipo finished with a career-high 35 points on 15-for-24 shooting; adding eight assists and three steals. Oladipo was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in December after averaging 12.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He has led (or tied) the team in scoring three times, in rebounding twice and in assists seven times. Oladipo has also scored in double figures 30 times and has had 20+ points five times this season.

KEY MATCHUP vs. HEAT: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. LeBron James

After sitting out 19 games with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist energized the Bobcats defense in his return when he swiped a season-high two steals on Jan. 14 against the New York Knicks and followed that up with another two-steal night on Jan. 15 in Philadelphia. MKG also helped the Cats hold an opponent below 100 points for the first time in five games in his first game back in Charlotte's 108-98 win over the Knicks. He is averaging 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds this season and will look to rise to the challenge, as he is tasked with one of the toughest assignments in the NBA: two-time MVP LeBron James… James has faired well against the Cats, averaging 28 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in their two meetings this season. He is currently riding a streak of four-straight 30+ point games, tied for the second-longest 30-point streak in franchise history. James has currently scored in double-figures in 531 consecutive games, and in 253 consecutive games for the Heat, a new franchise record. Additionally, he ranks fourth among all-time consecutive double-figure scoring games in NBA history.

KEY MATCHUP vs. RAPTORS: Kemba Walker vs. DeMar DeRozan

Kemba Walker is coming off a solid performance Jan. 15 against the Sixers, leading Charlotte with with 26 points, eight assists and five rebounds in a solid all-around effort, despite the 95-92 loss. Walker has scored in double-figures 28 times in his last 29 games and will look to continue the streak when the Cats leading scorer faces Toronto’s offensive star, DeMar DeRozan, for the third time this season… Derozan is having a career year for the Raptors this season, averaging 21.3 points (13th in the NBA), 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 37.9 minutes (fourth in the NBA)… These two both had impressive showings in an offensive duel last time the two teams tipped off. DeRozan finished with a game-high 30 points for the 16th 30-point game of his career. Ultimately, it was Walker who had the final say after scoring a team-high 29 points and nailing a baseline jumper as time expired to give the Cats a 104-102 overtime win on Dec. 18 in Toronto.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS

Charlotte is coming off a 95-92 loss to the Sixers in the second game of a back-to-back on Jan. 15. The Bobcats held the Sixers to 95 points, holding their opponent under 100 points for the second-straight game and the 27th time this season … Anthony Tolliver tied Raymond Felton’s franchise record with nine consecutive three-point makes Jan. 15 in Philadelphia. Tolliver missed his next five three-point attempts, snapping the streak... Al Jefferson has finished in double figures 25 times in his last 27 games… Nine of the Bobcats 16 victories this season have been decided by six points or less. The Bobcats have recorded the third-most victories in the NBA in games decided by six points or less.

SCOUTING THE MAGIC

The Magic are currently on an nine-game losing streak - their longest of the season. Orlando’s last win came on Dec. 29 against Atlanta… The Magic are 25-12 all-time vs. Charlotte (14-4 at home, 11-8 on the road), including a 92-83 win this season on Dec. 11… Orlando is also averaging 33.2 defensive rebounds, which ranks ninth in the NBA (as of Jan. 16), and ranks 10th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage (.753)… This season, Orlando is shooting 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range, which is an improvement over last season. They have shot 50 percent or better eight times, including a season-high 55.7 percent (39-70) on Nov. 1 vs. New Orleans... The Magic have made at least one three-point field goal in 530 consecutive games, dating all the way back to Mar. 17, 2007...The Dallas Mavericks connected on at least one three-pointer in 1,108 games from Feb. 27, 1999-Dec. 15, 2012, the longest streak in NBA history.

SCOUTING THE HEAT

The Heat and Bobcats meet for the third of four matchups this regular season. Miami won the two previous earlier this season and has now won 14-straight against the Bobcats. The Heat is 27-10 all-time versus the Bobcats in the regular season, including 11-7 in games played in Charlotte… Miami is a force to stop on the offensive end and it shows. Miami leads the league in field goal percentage at 50.7 percent and scores an average of 104.1 points, which ranks seventh in the NBA… A loss to the Wizards on Jan. 15 ended the Heat’s winning streak of 22-staight divisional games, the second-longest in NBA history… LeBron James streak of four-straight 30+ point games was snapped Jan. 15 as he finished with 25 points… James also earned NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for games played in December after averaging 24.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.64 steals while shooting 58.1 percent from the field. It marked the 21st time a Heat player has earned Player of the Month honors and his 11th as a member of the Heat, the most by a player in franchise history…Greg Oden made his Heat debut Jan.15 against the Wizards, his first regular season action since Dec. 5, 2009 as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.

SCOUTING THE RAPTORS

Toronto saw its three-game win streak end Jan. 15 in an 88-83 loss in Boston. The Raptors have gone 13-6 since snapping a 10-game losing streak against Los Angeles on Dec. 8…DeMar DeRozan ranks second in scoring among Eastern Conference guards since Dec. 1, with an average of 21.1 points in 20 games… Kyle Lowry is shooting .489 (23-for-47) from three-point range through eight games in January. His 23 made three-pointers this month - tied for fifth in the NBA. Lowry has made two-or-more three-pointers in seven-straight contests (Jan. 3-15). He has made four three-pointers in a game five times this season…The Raptors defense ranks second in the NBA in points allowed (88.9) and third in opponent field goal percentage (.412) through eight games in January… Toronto has held opponents under 45 percent shooting in each of the last five games (Jan. 7-15). The Raptors are 16-4 when holding opponents below 45 percent from the field this season…The starting unit of DeRozan, Lowry, Terrence Ross, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas have been intact for the vast majority of this Raptors run and will look for a 12th win in 18 games. The last Raptors starting lineup to notch 13 wins together was Jarrett Jack, Andrea Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and DeRozan, which went 13-13 in 2009-10.

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