FINAL: ORLANDO MAGIC 89, CHARLOTTE BOBCATS 77


GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Friday, April 1
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Amway Center (ORLANDO, FL)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: FS Florida



PROJECTED MATCHUPS

LINEUPS MAY CHANGE BY GAME TIME


TEAM
PG
SG
C
PF
SF
R
R
BOBCATS
DJ Augustin

Stephen Jackson

Kwame Brown

Boris Diaw

Gerald Henderson

Tyrus Thomas

Matt Carroll
MAGIC
Jameer Nelson

Jason Richardson

Dwight Howard

Brandon Bass

Hedo Turkoglu

Ryan Anderson

Gilbert Arenas





















GAME RECAP


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Dwight Howard had 26 points and 14 rebounds, Jameer Nelson chipped in 15 points and six assists, and the Orlando Magic ran past the short-handed Charlotte Bobcats, 89-77 on Friday night.

Quentin Richardson added 14 points off the bench for the Magic, who snapped a two-game losing streak by improving to 3-0 against the Bobcats this season. Orlando has won 13 of the last 15 meetings with Charlotte.

The Bobcats, who began the night chasing Indiana for the East's final playoff spot, lost an opportunity to close the gap with just seven games to play after Friday night. Dante Cunningham led Charlotte with 21 points and D.J. Augustin added 19.

Charlotte hosts Orlando on April 6 in their final regular-season meeting this year.

The Magic were without reserve guards J.J. Redick, Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon, while the Bobcats played without starting forward Stephen Jackson, Tyrus Thomas and Shaun Livingston. But it was the Magic that did the best job overcoming the holes in their rotation.

Orlando led by as many as 12 points in the first half and took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Bobcats scored the first two baskets of the final period to get within 70-64, but a 12-2 spurt by the Magic made it 88-66 with under 5 minutes to play.

That effectively ended any hopes of a Charlotte comeback.

The Bobcats had their toughest time adjusting offensively in the first half as the Magic built a 49-39 halftime lead.

Howard exploited Charlotte's frontcourt absences early, hitting 5 of 6 from the field and finishing with 11 points. Nelson had 11 of his own, while Bass and Richardson each had eight.

Howard also got in some rare rest in the opening 24 minutes as the Magic's cushion hovered around double digits. Seldom-used Malik Allen logged some minutes when Howard was on the bench.

Cunningham and Augustin had 11 points apiece for Charlotte, which shot 47 percent from the field. The Bobcats' bench produced only four points, though, and they were just 1 for 6 from beyond the arc.

The Magic had four 3s in the half and scored 13 points off eight Charlotte turnovers.

NOTES: Jackson was out with a strained left hamstring, Livingston with a bruised tailbone and Thomas with a sore left knee. ... Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said it is "status quo" regarding the lower abdominal strain that's kept G J.J. Redick sidelined 11 straight games. The team will know Monday or Tuesday what is possible for him the remainder of the season. ... Arenas sat out after missing Friday's morning shootaround because of "chills," Van Gundy said. Duhon missed his second consecutive game with a ligament strain in his right thumb, but Van Gundy said an MRI exam revealed no broken bone. "We were a little worried and we're hoping to get him back before the end of the regular season," Van Gundy said. "I doubt he'll play on Sunday, but maybe late next week we'll be able to get him back. So that's a good thing."





DENTON'S RECAP VS. BOBCATS


ORLANDO – By the end of this season, Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard will likely log far more minutes than he ever has in his career. And he came into Friday night’s game against Charlotte having played well in excess of 40 minutes in 11 of the past 13 games.

After a night where he battered the Bobcats for 26 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots without committing a foul in 38 minutes of the Magic’s ho-hum 89-77 victory, Howard finally revealed his secret to being able to shoulder such a taxing workload all season.

``Fifty-cent hunny buns from Walgreens,’’ said Howard, who is usually a connoisseur of such top restaurants such as McDonald’s and Steak ‘N Shake. ``Hunny buns tend to refuel my body, so I always have to keep my hunny buns on deck.’’

Howard actually caught a break Friday night as he got 10 minutes of rest during the game as the Magic (48-28) grabbed an early lead and was never really threatened by the short-handed Bobcats (32-43). Orlando didn’t get a great game from many players, but it could still count on its Most Valuable Player candidate in the middle. He made an efficient 10 of 14 shots and six of eight free throws. And just for good measure, he grabbed five offensive boards and swiped two steals.

With no backup center on the roster, Howard has rarely gotten a rest in games the past six weeks. But he said he feels fresh heading down the stretch and will be prepared to play all 48 minutes if asked in playoff games.

``Coach plays me a lot, but we don’t have a lot of guys and we’re still trying to win games. It’s fine with me, but I just have to make sure that I take care of my body,’’ Howard said. ``Right now it’s just about getting ready for the playoff games.’’

Jameer Nelson had 15 points and six assists, while Quentin Richardson returned from three games off because of back pain and scored 14 points off the bench with 14 points. Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass each had 12 points.

Other than Howard, the Magic weren’t particularly sharp on either end of the floor. Head coach Stan Van Gundy warned that his Magic must put some value on the final six games of the regular season and not think that they can coast into the playoffs and ``flip the switch.’’

``You can’t just turn it on,’’ Van Gundy warned. ``The Boston Celtics can get to day one of the playoffs and turn it on because they’ve been there before, they’ve won a championship and they know what it is. The San Antonio Spurs can do it, the Lakers can do it. But the rest of us can’t do it. We don’t have the background. We don’t have enough guys who have been there and done it. We’ve got to go in playing with great intensity and energy. We’ve got to play at a higher level than we played tonight, we have to. We’ve got to start getting serious about it.’’

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

READ THE REST OF DENTON'S ANALYSIS





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