It was the kind of night where nothing seemed to go right for Orlando. Even with a chance to win the game.
Arron Afflalo was trying to force the action, something Orlando was not doing for much of the previous three quarters as the team tried to bounce back from a rough second and third quarter. Orlando finally had the urgency to try and push and impose its will on Charlotte as time ticked away and the lead stayed somewhere between six and 11 points.
Afflalo and Jameer Nelson had done a lot of work to get the Magic within four points with less than a minute to play.
Afflalo went hard into the paint, right into Gerald Henderson and Brendan Haywood and hoped to get a foul. The ref's whistle stayed in his pocket and Afflalo, visibly upset, earned a technical foul. Realizing what he had just done, Afflalo crouched to the side of the court with his head in his hands.
This was the kind of game it was. Orlando had the fight in moments and the ability to win, but could not get over the hump against Charlotte. The Bobcats recorded their 10th win of the season and defeated the Magic as the more aggressive team and the better team on this night for a 106-100 win.
Charlotte really was the better team, which might surprise those that missed the game tonight.
The Bobcats scored 28 and 29 points in the first two quarters and were clearly the aggressors. They took advantage of some poor defensive rotations and pick and roll defense for the Magic. Gerald Henderson (17 points, 8/11 FGs) and Ramon Sessions (15 points) made a living in the paint for the Bobcats and Brendan Haywood (8 points, 7 rebounds), Jeff Adrien (9 points, 5 rebounds and Hakim Warrick (15 points, 5 rebounds) did a good job on the glass.
The Bobcats shot nearly 60 percent in the first half and finished shooting 46.8 percent. But they grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and got to the line for 38 free throw attempts, making 28. Orlando clearly does not have that ability to get to the line, and until desperation set in, the team was not playing with the same aggression.
Charlotte went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter to take the lead for good and had a comfortable grip on the game throughout the second half. The Bobcats had an answer for every Magic run as the Magic could not get stops at key moments. Either they could not get the stop or they would turn the ball over. The deficit was built on a string of three consecutive turnovers for Orlando late in the second quarter.
In all, the Magic committed 15 turnovers and never could find the same offensive groove the Bobcats seemed to have. The 3-point shot kept them in it, but there was very little fluidity to the offense. There was a lot of mid-range jumpers and not a lot of action in the paint for Orlando. Only 40 of Orlando's 100 points came in the paint.
The Magic hit 11 of 31 3-pointers and that kept them in it and missed plenty of good looks, but this is not a 3-point shooting team like it was in year's past. Orlando has to create some easy shot opportunities. Many of those misses did not come fluidly out of the offense.
Give credit to Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo. Throughout the game, they were fighting to keep the team in it. Nelson scored 22 points and dished out seven assists and really carried the Magic in stretches. Afflalo scored 23 points and nearly willed the Magic back into the game at the end as the Bobcats failed to close it.
Charlotte though secured the victory with the timely plays it needed. The Bobcats largely limited the Magic to one shot and eliminated the Magic's inside presence as Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic scored only 15 points combined and grabbed 17 rebounds combined. Vucevic's string of eight games with at least 10 rebounds came to an end this night.
Once again, Orlando learned that it has to be ready to play with focus and intensity every night out, no matter who the opponent is. Charlotte was simply the better team Friday night.