I haven't seen the AP or Observer recaps, but I'd put even money on one of them using the term "hard fought". The Bobcats went down big early, but then stormed back in the third quarter, eventually pulling within six in the fourth quarter before the Magic rounded back into form and pulled away again.
In losing 93-81, the Bobcats demonstrated they have the capacity to score against a good defensive team in stretches. However, they have also yet to show they can combine that offensive upside for a whole game with the defense they'd played last season and earlier this year. It's what separates them from the playoff contenders.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.
-- They're not good three point shooters, yet they hoist 'em up. 2-17 tonight.
-- I'm scared for D.J. Augustin. He looks like he's regressed, and just about every relevant stat is down across the board in these first few games. Tonight? Lost on defense, lost on offense. The assured manner that marked his rookie season is somewhere in the ether, probably cavorting around with his three point stroke.
-- Forget tracking Okafor/Chandler: I'm developing an obsession with comparing Gerald Henderson's minutes to Stephen Graham's. 2 1/2 minutes for Henderson tonight, the last 2 1/2 minutes of the game, after everything was virtually decided. Graham? He got more than 11 wholly ineffective minutes, including crunch time while Chandler was out with five fouls and Diaw was playing center.
-- Dude. VladRad. My man. Something wrong? Wanna talk?
-- Tyson Chandler only played a little more than 11 minutes, but that's not really his fault. Yes, he got in foul trouble, but Larry Brown refused to play him from about 9 minutes to go in the first quarter through the end of the first half... because he had two fouls. Two! If you have three fouls at the half, you're on pace to foul out at the end of the game. It's okay to have three fouls going into the second half. Really. It is. In the second quarter, Chandler should have played until he had three fouls, and then in the third quarter played until he got his fourth, and then in the fourth quarter played until he got his fifth, until four minutes to go, when you let things fly. Not complicated.
-- Raymond Felton played like a real point guard tonight, making smart decisions again and again. Only 1 turnover, and I counted only one wildly ill-advised shot, though that layup attempt was a score.
-- Nazr Mohammed used every ounce of veteran savvy to show why team after team has seen fit to employ him over the years, despite not a single plus skill other than height. At times, he gave Dwight Howard trouble at both ends of the floor with his quick shuffling and multiple pump fakes.