The Orlando Magic looked like they were on their way to a run of the mill win. They'd held the Charlotte Bobcats to 38% shooting through three quarters, Gerald Wallace had 0 points, and they had a ten point lead going into the fourth quarter. But then the Cats went on a run that wouldn't end, forcing the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, the Magic started by scoring 11 unanswered points, and the Cats couldn't recover. The game ended in the Magic's favor, 106-95, but if ever there was a moral victory, this would be it. Instead of meekly rolling over when the game wasn't going their way through three whole quarters, the Bobcats stuck with their game until things starting falling their way. It's a loss, but we might take solace in the Cats' effort.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.BAD
-- Wallace didn't score until a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter. A few minutes later, he hit a clutch three. But throughout the game, he was looking to pass first, even before putting the ball on the floor. Whatever the exact cause, he simply wasn't himself on the offensive end of the floor, shooting 2-11. Gerald still got 10 rebounds and I didn't see much of a downtick in his defense, but something's going on, and his ankle injury is the first thing to come to mind.
-- The Cats just couldn't shoot for most of the game. The final total doesn't look totally out of line with what they might be expected to do against a solid defensive team like the Magic, but they were stifled pretty handily until the fourth quarter was well underway. Major culprits were Stephen Jackson and Ronald Murray, who shot 6-18, and 1-6, respectively.
-- D.J. Augustin made the most of his opportunity. With Felton hobbled and Larry Brown probably wanting to limit his minutes, Augustin hit shot after shot, finishing with 22 points on 14 attempts, including a game-tying three with under a minute to go in the game. Yes, he had the same issues he's always had on defense early in his run, but when he's playing up to his full abilities on offense, he more than makes up for those defensive deficiencies.
-- Just like the rest of the team, Raymond Felton was hit or miss, mostly miss, through the first three quarters. Then, he sat and rested for much of the fourth quarter. It looked like his ankle injury was going to sink his night. But when he did come in for crunch time, he hit a huge three with under thirty seconds. And on the Cats' final offensive play of regulation, he drove the lane and -- I know you're going to have a hard time believing this -- did NOT try to lay it in himself amongst the trees. Instead, he found Stephen Jackson drifting under the hoop, and he dropped it in the hoop to send the game to overtime. I don't like the notion of the microcosm, or the emblematic moment, but screw it: that play was emblematic of the improvement Felton has made all season.
-- Dwight Howard can be shut down on offense. We saw Emeka Okafor do it last season. Tonight, he wasn't shut down, but given the players on our roster, holding him to 10 points and 20 rebounds, while still thoroughly dominant, was a positive result. That is to say: if Dwight's major contribution is on the boards and defense (7 blocks), and not in the points column, I'll take it. Good job by Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop -- especially Diop, who was entrusted to do battle with Howard during crunch time.
-- Doth mine eyes deceive me? The Bobcats only turned it over 12 times. That's better than their season average (16).
-- Big props to the Cats for their rebounding. Wallace had 10. Diaw had 10. Mohammed had 9. Jackson and Felton each chipped in with 5.