With Nikola Vucevic away, the Charlotte Bobcats — and especially Al Jefferson — were able to play at the Orlando Magic’s expense.
Vucevic, who had 24 points and a season-high 23 rebounds in an overtime win over the Bobcats a week ago in Orlando, was a late scratch Friday night because of a sore left Achilles tendon. Jefferson took advantage of his absence to score 29 points and grab 16 rebounds as the Bobcats handed the Magic a 91-80 defeat.
The Magic made only 35.6 percent of their field-goal attempts for the game and had but 36 points at halftime. They trimmed their deficit to single digits early in the fourth quarter, largely behind the play of Victor Oladipo. The rookie scored 17 of his team-high 21 points in the second half and finished with his 12th consecutive game in double figures.
But Oladipo’s efforts couldn’t prevent the Magic from losing for the 35th time away from home, tying a record set in the franchise’s very first season (1989-90). Their final two road games are against two playoff-bound teams in Brooklyn and Chicago.
The Magic had captured two of their previous three meetings this season with the Bobcats, including a win at Charlotte in December.
Andrew Nicholson made only his fifth start of the season and his first since Jan. 4 due to the loss of Vucevic. He picked up two fouls in the first six minutes and played sparingly the rest of the way.
Tobias Harris had 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench while Kyle O’Quinn finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots, one off his season high.
THE TURNING POINT
The Magic were held without a field goal for close to five minutes late in the second quarter while the Bobcats went on a 19-1 run.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Jefferson had 21 points and 11 rebounds by halftime. The Magic’s five starters, meanwhile, combined for only 11 points and 12 rebounds.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Magic’s record in games without Vucevic fell to 2-17.
Saturday night vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m. (FOX Sports Florida).