By John Denton
February 19, 2013
ORLANDO -- Early on Tuesday night, it seemed as if the second half of the NBA season would begin the same way the first half ended for the Orlando Magic – as in another lopsided loss.
The Magic fell behind by 22 points in a sluggish and mostly defense-less first half, but put forth the kind of inspired effort in the second half that allowed them to get within two points of the lead.
But when it mattered most Tuesday night, the Magic had no answers defensively for the likes of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson in a 105-92 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats at the Amway Center.
The Magic (15-38) received a tongue-lashing of sorts at halftime from veteran guard Arron Afflalo, and the team responded with so dramatically better play in the second half. Orlando got within 90-88 with 4 minutes to play on three free throws by Afflalo, but the run wouldn’t last down the stretch.
Too much Walker (24 points) and Henderson (24 points) allowed Charlotte to pull away and defeat Orlando for a second straight time this season. That’s just the second time that’s happened and the first time since March of 2005.
``How poor we were in the first half is how we’ve been while losing the last month or two, but I was really proud of the guys in the second half,’’ said Afflalo, who scored 18 points. ``We came in here at halftime down 20 and we made a commitment to be more vocal on defense and we cut the lead to two. We didn’t win tonight, but in my eyes we grew tonight.’’
Orlando also got 18 points and 11 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic, his 30th double-double of the season. Rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson also overcame a slow start with 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
``We had some inspiring words by Arron and he got our hopes up and told us that we had to communicate better to get stops and basically be one unit out there on the floor,’’ Nicholson said. ``We dug ourselves a 20-point hole and we basically have to have the same mentality that we had in the second half for 48 minutes throughout the game. If we do that, we’ll be successful.’’
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