Cohen Courtside: Magic at Bobcats (3/6/12)
By Josh Cohen
March 6, 2012
In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.
For the first 15 minutes or so, Tuesday’s game in Charlotte went as planned.
The Orlando Magic bruised and battered a far more inferior and substandard opponent. They went up by as many as 20 early in the second quarter and the deprived Bobcats resembled a club that had won just four games all season.
It just started to look too easy, in fact. The Magic appeared more than ready for their highly anticipated clash with the Chicago Bulls on Thursday and the team’s balance was strikingly impressive.
But then suddenly – without any justifiable reason or warning – Orlando’s imposing performance transformed into something far more haunting and unsuspecting.
Out of nowhere, Corey Maggette (29 points) and Gerald Henderson (16 points) formed into Charlotte’s version of LeBron and Wade, Bismack Biyombo (10 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks) shaped into a defensive gem and fellow rookie Kemba Walker (10 points, eight assists) showed flashes of brilliance.
"We gave them confidence and they just played with total confidence in the second half and that’s where they got the win," said Dwight Howard, who finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds. "You can’t do that with any team. We cannot allow teams to get confidence against us."
One could blame fatigue. Orlando won a grueling contest in Toronto on Monday while Charlotte rested and had plenty of time to prepare for their Southeast Division adversaries.
One could suggest desperation was the significant source of reasoning. The Bobcats had lost five straight and 21 of their last 22 games and were beyond anxious to record a win.
Or you can simply credit and reward the Bobcats, who deserved to win this game because of their intensity and willingness to scratch and claw for a victory to help ignite their fans at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Whatever the causes and whatever the underlining reasons, Tuesday’s loss is one the Magic should utilize as a foundation to motivate each other for Thursday’s big game.
Earlier this season during a brutal stretch in which they had suffered some unforeseen collapses and scoring malfunctions, the Magic were dealt some startling defeats and had to resurrect their confidence in each other.
There was even a loss in New Orleans, which at the time had lost 16 of its previous 17 games, by 26 in late January and there was plenty of ambiguity about the team’s self-reliance. But gradually, Orlando bounced back and eventually won eight of its first 10 games in February.
A defeat like Tuesday’s in Charlotte is another reminder to the Magic that they have to give 100 percent effort under all circumstances. It doesn’t matter who they are playing or where. They all realize that to be a championship caliber team, relapses must be curtailed.
Fortunately in this truncated and compressed NBA season, the Magic are able to quickly forget about what transpired in Charlotte and can fly to Chicago with some infuriation and determination.
A win against the Bulls, who possess the NBA’s best record, will help revitalize the Magic’s buoyancy and prove any of the naysayers wrong about what they are capable of accomplishing.
Do you think the Magic will beat the Bulls on Thursday?
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