Denton: Magic-Bobcats Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
February 27, 2011

ORLANDO – Winners of late against some of the NBA’s better teams as in the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Orlando Magic proved on Sunday that they can in fact also whip a mediocre squad such as the Charlotte Bobcats.

That was somewhat in question following disappointing recent home losses to Sacramento and New Orleans, one that left shooting guard J.J. Redick describing the Magic as ``manic-depressive.’’ But that’s not something the Magic will have to worry about in the week ahead with showdowns looming against the Knicks, Heat and Bulls.

The Magic used an 18th straight double-double from Dwight Howard, 26 assists and a shooting revival from reserve point guard Gilbert Arenas in a workmanlike 100-86 whipping of the Bobcats Sunday night at the Amway Center.

``We showed we can come off a big win and play well,’’ said Redick, referring to Friday’s defeat of the Thunder. ``Hopefully now we will become more consistent and in this next stretch of games show where we stand in early March. I’m really excited about it.’’

The Magic (38-22) have now beaten their Southeastern Division rivals 13 of the last 14 meetings, including last spring’s four-game playoff sweep. The Bobcats’ lone victory against the Magic was a shocker in Orlando last March.

Brandon Bass had 17 points, while Arenas scored 16 points and made four of six 3-pointers. Point guard Jameer Nelson was attacking early on in the pick-and-roll and had a solid game with 13 points and seven assists.

``It’s difficult to beat us when we’re moving the ball around,’’ said Jason Richardson, who chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and three assists and made the 5,000th field goal of his career. ``We’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot and we’re trying to really share the ball. (The 26 assists) show how unselfish we are as a team.’’

By comparison, Charlotte (26-33) had just 14 assists – one less than the Magic had in the first half of the game. Stephen Jackson scored 35 points on 13 of 22 shooting, but most of it came off of one-on-one sets. Even with Jackson’s scoring outburst, the Bobcats were a minus-13 in the small forward’s 39 minutes on the floor.

Now, with Charlotte out of the way, the Magic have a three-game test against New York, Miami and Chicago. Orlando is 1-0 against the Knicks, 1-2 against the Heat and 1-1 versus the Bulls.

``We’re talented enough to beat anybody,’’ Howard said. ``We’re equipped, like coach (Stan Van Gundy) said, to win a championship. We just have to continue to play hard and be consistent with what we do. That’s the only way we’re going to get where we’re trying to get to.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Sunday’s victory at the Amway Center: