The Orlando Magic held serve at home in their playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats, winning Game 2 by a score of 92-77. While the series is far from over, the Cats face virtual must-wins in Games 3 and 4 back in Charlotte, given that they weren't a good road team during the regular season and were defeated handily in these last two games at Amway Arena.
It started with a disastrous first half, in which the Bobcats scored only 30 points. Then, in the third quarter, the Magic extended their lead to 20 points, and there was no recovering, despite a furious fourth quarter comeback attempt that fizzled with about 4 minutes to play.
Charlotte seemed to make appropriate adjustments to defend Jameer Nelson, holding him to 13 points on 11 attempts and only 5 assists. However, though Dwight Howard was limited by foul trouble, he was individually dominant when he did play, scoring 15 points and pulling down 9 rebounds in only 29 minutes. Vince Carter scored 19 points on only 10 attempts, and Matt Barnes had a solid game, with 11 points, shooting 4-6 from the field.
In the end, very little went well for the Cats, as they were outplayed from the tip -- not dramatically so, at any particular moment, but decisively over time.
Game thread comments, lowlights, and highlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENTS
Ourdaywillcome -- 23: the number of blood vessels Larry Brown is about to blow in the dressing room.
Stevarino -- Maybe the Magic have better offensive flow with Howard out. The ball doesn’t get stuck in the post where there’s almost always a double team and little ball movement. Orlando seems to be more free-flowing and attacking.
-- Theo Ratliff and Nazr Mohammed have vastly different skill sets. We don't expect Nazr to do much on defense, while that's pretty much all Theo can do, but neither was particularly effective on D. Even though Mohammed did fine on offense, especially given the opposition, his frighteningly ineffective defense is cause for concern. During the regular season, Tyson Chandler's history of foot injury virtually ensures he won't play more than 30 minutes per game, but this is the playoffs. If you're ever going to stretch a player's minutes, now is the time. For two straight games, Chandler's been the best center we have, and he probably has the highest true talent level, anyway. Play him.
-- I don't know if Larry Hughes definitively played his way out of the rotation, but in just under 6 minutes, he shot 0-3, turned it over once, and committed a foul. Good times. To his credit, he did get 3 rebounds.
-- The Cats turned it over 21 times. That includes 7 from Stephen Jackson and 5 from Boris Diaw.
-- The Bobcats shot under 40% from the field through the first three quarters. I'm not sure what they were doing in the fourth, or if the Magic let up, but if it's in their control, here's hoping the Cats identify what that is, because they brought their FG% for the game up to respectable levels in that final period. Not only that, but their defense got kicked up a notch.
-- Gerald Wallace made the leap this year from above average starter to All Star, and he's continued that stellar play in his first two postseason games. He started slowly, but ended up with 15 points on only 7 attempts, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
-- The turnovers sucked, but Jax shot the way we'll need him to if the Cats are going to extend the series, putting up 27 points.
-- Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin did an admirable job defending Nelson and Jason Williams. On offense, Augustin hit his two three-point attempts, and the two combined for only 1 turnover all game.