By John Denton
January 18, 2013

ORLANDO – One step forward, one step backward. Two nights after delivering one of their best start-to-finish performances of the season, the Orlando Magic never had it Friday night and fell flat against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.

Other than a couple of two-point leads in the first half, the Magic never could get on top of the Bobcats and repeatedly struggled late in the game to make serious runs at the lead.

As encouraging as Orlando’s thumping of the Indiana Pacers was on Wednesday, Friday night’s 106-100 loss to the Bobcats was equally as frustrating. The Magic (14-25) did get within four points of the Bobcats (10-29) with 1:13 to play, but a missed shot and a technical foul on Arron Afflalo doomed the attempt to salvage the night with a fourth-quarter rally.

How bizarre of a night was it? Consider this: On Tuesday, Charlotte lost at home to Indiana by 27 points. On Wednesday, the Magic led the Pacers by as much as 22 and won 97-86. Conventional wisdom suggested that pointed to a lopsided Magic win on Friday against the Bobcats, but instead it turned out to be one of Orlando’s most disappointing nights of the season.

``The great thing about the NBA is that as soon as you take a sigh, another teams comes in and they’re ready to play,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of his team’s letdown. ``That’s why you always have to stay in the now. You worry about today’s game and you don’t look forward. That’s always got to be your approach.’’

In the past seven days, Orlando has beaten two of the NBA’s best teams (the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana) and lost to two of its worst teams (Washington and Charlotte). And over the last month, Orlando has incredibly dropped its last six games against teams with losing records.

Orlando, which trailed by 12 at intermission, allowed Charlotte to shoot 59 percent in the first half – the highest an opponent has shot in a half this season. The Magic made a push late in the third period only to see Charlotte push the lead back to 13 points midway through the final period. The Bobcats attempted 17 more free throws and shot 46.8 percent from the floor.

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