NBA Game Summary - Charlotte at Orlando
(Thursday, March 24th)
Final Score: Charlotte 108, Orlando 94
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Emeka Okafor recorded his 36th double-double of the season as the Charlotte Bobcats beat Orlando, 108-94, dealing another blow to the Magic's playoff aspirations.
Okafor netted 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for Charlotte, which earned its second win in four days against Orlando and won its second season series of the year after improving to 3-1 versus Orlando. The Bobcats also went 2-0 against Houston this season.
With the win, Charlotte snapped a 12-game road losing streak and notched its first road victory against an Eastern Conference team this season. However, the victory was only the expansion franchise's third in its last 17 games.
"That was probably one of the more consistent games we've played," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "From the start of the game all the way to the end when we answered some critical situations, when they went up a couple of times. Our guys hung in there and kept their composure."
Gerald Wallace had 22 points and nine boards, Primoz Brezec contributed 20 points and seven rebounds and Brevin Knight scored 15 points to go along with 15 assists and eight steals in the victory. Knight has posted back-to-back 15 assist games.
Grant Hill scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Magic, who are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings -- 1-1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the final postseason spot. Philadelphia, which did not play on Thursday, returns to action Friday against Toronto.
DeShawn Stevenson scored a season-high 23 points, while Jameer Nelson notched the first double-double of his career with 18 points and a career-high 13 assists to go along with seven rebounds for Orlando, which has lost nine of its last 10 games. Dwight Howard also had a double-double with 14 points and 15 boards for the Magic.
"We're still going to the playoffs," Howard said. "But we're having a tough time trying to win games. Just because we didn't win this game tonight, you know, we've got to, the last few games, is win more than we lose."
Charlotte played the role of front-runner for most of the game and came into the fourth quarter with a two-point advantage, 75-73. The Bobcats put the game away with an 11-2 run that stretched their lead to double digits, 94-84, with a little more than four minutes remaining.
Orlando, which was outscored 33-21 in the fourth quarter, never threatened again.
"I thought the poise at that point was good, and the 'Little Man' (Knight) had the ball," Bickerstaff said. "That's what he does for us. He gets the ball moving, and he made the passes to the right people and we made shots. Again, what we did best was, normally in a situation like this where you're the visiting team, you expect the home team to make a run and go up on you. We had the poise to stay true."
Trailing by two points coming out of halftime, Orlando opened the third quarter on a 9-6 burst to take its first lead since the opening minute of the game, 60-59, with a little less than nine minutes to play in the frame. However, both teams netted 22 points during the quarter and the Bobcats continued to lead by two, 75-73.
Behind seven points from Okafor and six from Brezec, Charlotte jumped out to a 21-9 lead midway through the first quarter. Orlando responded with a quarter- closing 18-8 run to find itself down 29-27 after 12 minutes.
The second quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with Orlando trimming the deficit to one point before heading into intermission trailing 53-51 after Nelson swished a three-pointer from the baseline.
"We showed that we are learning," Okafor said. "We have been in that situation before and now we have learned from our mistakes and capitalized. We held them off and got the win. We didn't get panicked at all."
Orlando played its third and final game without All-Star guard Steve Francis, who was suspended for three games by the league after kicking a photographer in Seattle last Friday...The Magic will play their next four games at home, beginning with Phoenix on Saturday...Charlotte will begin a four-game homestand Saturday against Miami...Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu did not play due to a broken left wrist suffered in the fourth quarter of Monday's loss to Charlotte. Turkoglu is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
03/24 23:11:23 ET