By John Denton
February 19, 2013

In what could have possibly been his final home game in a Magic uniform because of the many trade rumors surrounding him, Magic fan favorite J.J. Redick struggled mightily throughout Tuesday’s game. The NBA’s trade deadline is Thursday, and Redick has become one of the league’s most talked-about players because of the tremendous strides that he’s made as a player this season.

"Bad basketball. Bad defense. They (Charlotte) didn't seem to have a problem with energy, or a layoff or anything like that. Just bad," Redick said. "Everybody was out there making mistakes. The NBA is about team defense. For the last 28 games we've been pretty awful on the defensive side of the ball."

Redick vowed before the game that the trade talk surrounding him wouldn’t affect his play, but he simply wasn’t himself against the Bobcats. He missed five of his first six shots and finished just four of 14, with seven of the misses coming from 3-point range. He had 10 points and five assists in 29 minutes.

The Magic fell 108-76 to the Atlanta Hawks last Wednesday before the All-Star break, and Tuesday’s game seemed to be headed that direction as Orlando fell behind 63-41 at one point late in the first half. The second half was entirely different, but Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn wishes his team had started its rally much sooner.

``We dug ourselves a pretty deep hole to be down 20 at halftime,’’ Vaughn said. ``But we gave ourselves a chance. We fought back in the third quarter – probably one of our better quarters of the year, 17 points allowed. It was great communication and trust and it was great to see.’’

Rookie Maurice Harkless chipped in 15 points and six boards. Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson added 10 points and six assists for the Magic, which shot 41.6 percent and made only four of 25 3-point shots.

Tuesday’s game was the first following a four-day break for the NBA All-Star Game in Houston. It also started a stretch of four games in five nights and six games over a nine-day stretch.

The Magic departed after Tuesday’s game for Dallas where they will face the Mavericks on Wednesday night. Following a day off on Thursday, the Magic will play the Grizzlies in Memphis on Friday and Cleveland in Orlando on Saturday.

Down 20 points after a frustrating first half, the Magic made several charges at the Bobcats in the third period. Orlando scored the first 10 points of the second half to slice the deficit in half. They did a much better job defending after a poor first half, holding the Bobcats to five of 16 shooting in the third period. And by the start of the fourth, Orlando was within 80-70.

``Basketball is a team sport and we were just communicating with each other more and helping one another out,’’ Afflalo said. ``It became infectious even on the offensive end and we started sharing the ball and we became all about winning. So hopefully our effort in that third quarter and to make it a close game in the fourth is something that we can bring against any team.’’

The Magic struggled on both ends of the floor in a dismal first half, falling behind by as much as 22 points and trailing 63-43 at the break. Orlando had very few answers defensively, allowing Henderson (18 in the first half) and Byron Mullens (14 in the first half and 20 in the game) to dominate on the inside and outside.

Charlotte, which entered the game last in the NBA in field goal percentage, hit 12 of its first 19 shots and drilled 59.1 percent of its tries in the first 24 minutes. The Bobcats’ 37 points in the first quarter were the most allowed by the Magic this season in a first period.

``We talked this morning about what we wanted to do with containing penetration and covering for one another, but (Charlotte) did a good job of – whether it was Gerald Henderson or Kemba – attacking us off the dribble,’’ Vaughn said. ``Second half, we had bodies in front of guys and if we did get beat we had people in help position. Overall, that was the adjustment we made.’’

Redick uncharacteristically struggled in the first half, missing five of his six shots and twice getting stripped of the ball off the dribble. Redick said before the game that he wasn’t obsessing over the trade rumors surrounding his name and he said it did him no good to think about Tuesday night possibly being his last home game with the Magic.

Afflalo thinks that the Magic can build off the strong defensive effort from Tuesday night’s second half and carry it over to Wednesday’s game in Dallas.

``The guys did an amazing job in the second half, outside of those last two minutes when the game was basically over,’’ Afflalo said. ``We were able to get back into the game. Now, we have to see if we can do it from the start of the game (on Wednesday). If we can do it from the start of the game, we’ll be a much better team.’’

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