NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 17th (All times eastern)
Charlotte Bobcats (21-31) at Orlando Magic (38-13), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Southeast Division members will renew acquaintances tonight at Orlando's Amway Arena, where the first-place Magic host the improving Charlotte Bobcats in the first game for both teams following the All-Star break.
Although they hold a comfortable 7 1/2-game lead on Atlanta for the top spot in the division, Orlando hasn't been playing its best ball as of late. The club lost three of its final five contests prior to the breather and struggled mightily on the offensive end in last Wednesday's 82-73 home setback to Denver.
Orlando shot a season-worst 30.4 percent from the field against the Nuggets and turned the ball over 24 times, the most the Magic have committed in a game this year.
All-Star Dwight Howard compiled 16 points and 15 rebounds in a losing cause. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Orlando, although the duo combined to make just 6-of-25 shots.
The Bobcats ended a five-game losing streak by beating a pair of the NBA's doormats in their final two outings before the break. After besting the Los Angeles Clippers by a 94-73 count in Charlotte on Febuary 9, the Bobcats came through with a 101-89 home decision over Washington last Wednesday.
D.J. Augustin led the way with 24 points against the Wizards, while newly- acquired Vladimir Radmanovic netted 21 while making 5-of-10 three-point attempts. Emeka Okafor posted a double-double in the win, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Charlotte currently stands 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, although the team will likely have to improve on its 6-17 road record to earn the first postseason appearance in franchise history. The Bobcats have lost four straight as the visitor.
The Bobcats have also had their struggles playing in Orlando in recent years. Charlotte has dropped six straight meetings with the Magic at Amway Arena and is just 1-7 all-time in Orlando. The Magic have won four of the last five overall matchups in this series as well, including a 90-85 triumph in Charlotte on November 16.
Charlotte is expected to get two key players back for tonight's tilt, however. Swingman Gerald Wallace, who's averaging 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, is set to play for the first time since suffering a collapsed lung and broken rib in a January 27 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Raja Bell is also slated to return from a groin injury that kept the veteran guard out for the last three games.
02/17 10:33:21 ET