The Bobcats should have won tonight. The Bobcats needed to win tonight. But they didn't. Losing to the Magic in Orlando is usually not a bad thing. Orlando is one of the tougher teams in the NBA to beat on the road, but that doesn't make the circumstances any different. When Charlotte is trying to improve their seeding, they need to win games against teams they're supposed to beat. Now, with the Wizards beating the Pacers, Charlotte's quest for the sixth seed took a hit and they're running out of games to catch up. Of course, it's not all gloom and doom. They still have a couple of head to head match ups left with Washington, so they still have a chance.
Charlotte jumped ahead with a big lead right from the start. They led by 14 points at the end of the first quarter and looked dominant. But then the bench came in. The Bobcats' reserves were never there tonight, and for a team that relies heavily on their production, 13 bench points wasn't enough to keep a large lead while the starters rested. The Magic actually closed the gap to one point in the third, but luckily the starters returned and stretched the lead back to seven to close the quarter.
The fourth quarter, however, was a disaster. First, the bench finally blew the lead. Then, around the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter, the offense decided it wasn't going to return for the rest of the night, and rebounding was completely optional. Actually, it was optional the whole game. The Bobcats were outperformed on the boards, losing that battle 57-36.
The offense somehow managed to regain the lead though, thanks to a few big shots from Kemba Walker. Unfortunately, the Magic were left with enough time to get one final look. Gerald Henderson went under a screen set for Arron Afflalo which gave him an open look to tie the game. Kemba missed the potential game winner on the next possession.
Overtime was more of the same: awful offense and no rebounding. Nobody was able to shoot at the end of the game. When nobody can hit a shot, the defense can focus in on the Bobcats' go-to scorer, Al Jefferson. The Bobcats ended up losing a game they should have won.
Big Al had to work for every single bucket tonight thanks to a fantastic effort from Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic had 22 points on 11-22 shooting, 23 rebounds, and played great defense on Jefferson. The Bobcats had no answer for him.
One thing that should never be forgotten is Josh McRoberts' career night that included six made 3-pointers and 24 points on 16 shots. The team gave him the ball so he could get a heat check. It was glorious.
Now, the Bobcats get a break before a huge, important home game against the Wizards on Monday. That game will be a great chance to make up for tonight's loss and regain some ground for the sixth seed. They're gonna need to play better than they did tonight to get a victory that night, though.