There was nothing spectacular about the Orlando Magic’s performance Sunday night.
But with the regular-season now in the stretch run, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wouldn’t mind seeing his team duplicate the businesslike approach it showed in its 100-86 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Dwight Howard had 20 points and 10 rebounds in a game Orlando never trailed. The Magic rarely saw a challenge from a Charlotte team still getting its footing following some trade deadline shuffling.
”We’re talented enough to beat anybody,” Howard said. ”We’re equipped, whatever you want to call it … to win a championship. We have to continue to play hard and be consistent with that we do. That’s the only way we’re going to get to where we’re trying to get to.”
Brandon Bass added 17 points and Gilbert Arenas chipped in 16, making four 3-pointers to break out of a recent shooting slump.
Orlando won for the fourth time in five games and 12th in 14 meetings with Charlotte. The Bobcats had a two-game winning streak snapped and remained a half-game behind Indiana in the chase for the East’s final playoff spot.
After struggling against opponents with winning records before the All-Star break, the Magic now have a chance at redemption this week with consecutive games against New York, Miami and Chicago. Van Gundy said every win is important at this point.
”We simply need to take it day-by-day and we need to focus on getting better every night out, no matter who we’re playing,” Van Gundy said. ”So this game tonight was just as big as who we’re playing on Tuesday night or Thursday or Friday.”
Stephen Jackson led Charlotte with 35 points, followed by D.J. Augustin and Boris Diaw with 11 apiece.
The Bobcats continue a four-game road trip at Denver on Wednesday. The Magic host New York on Tuesday night.
The Bobcats began their road trip Sunday in adjustment mode after shuffling their roster at the trade deadline.
Charlotte acquired Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks from Portland in exchange for Gerald Wallace, who was the Bobcats’ second-leading scorer. They also traded Nazr Mohammed to Oklahoma City for D.J. White and Morris Peterson.
Przybilla, Cunningham and White all saw their first action as Bobcats on Sunday.
All of them had modest debuts, though. Przybilla, who is expected to get the most use in the rotation going forward, racked up three fouls in the first half in just over five minutes of action. He went scoreless for the game. White finished with four points and White two.
The Magic led by as 15 points in the first half and held around a 10-point cushion for most of the second half.
The Bobcats cut it to 87-79 on a basket by Jackson with 6:42 to play. But the Magic answered with a jumper by Arenas and 3-pointer by J.J. Redick to push it 92-79 at the 5:46 mark.
Charlotte was unable to get any closer.
Jackson said that it might take time for the Bobcats to find their footing following the trades.
”We missed a lot of personnel stuff,” Jackson said. ”On defense (we) made a lot of mistakes. We’ve just got to come in tomorrow and get better. First game, can’t take anything from it.”
Bobcats coach Paul Silas also wasn’t too harsh on his team’s performance.
”I didn’t think we executed poorly,” he said. ”We couldn’t make shots. Defensively we didn’t adhere to a lot of our principles. And when you’re playing a really good team, and don’t adhere to your principles, you’re going to get beat.”
Van Gundy was looking for offensive consistency from his team following Friday’s decisive win over Oklahoma City.
Orlando delivered it in the first half Sunday, shooting 64 percent from the field, making 45 percent of its 3-pointers and building a 59-51 halftime advantage.
The Bobcats had no answers for Howard early, as he dropped in 14 points in the opening 24 minutes. But the Magic defense also didn’t do much to slow down Jackson, who led all scorers with 20 first-half points.
Jackson kept scoring in the second half, but the Magic’s defense tightened everywhere else as the Bobcats shooting percentage fell to just 40 percent for the night. Orlando shot 51 percent and hit 10 3-pointers. Arenas was 4 for 6.
Redick said it was nice to see Arenas, who had missed his previous 18 3-pointers, have a good night.
”Everybody is going to go through slumps,” Redick said. ”Gilbert stayed aggressive and that’s all you can really ask of him. Tonight he got it going and it was fun to see. It really was.”
Magic guard Jason Richardson said that consistency is rallying cry going forward.
”I thought we responded well,” he said. ”We came out, did some things right and played hard. .It’s good for us.”
Notes: Cunningham and White practiced as members of the Bobcats for the first time on Saturday. … The morning shoot around Sunday was Przybilla’s first team activity with Charlotte before the game. … Marks and Peterson were both inactive. … With four field goals Sunday, Richardson now has 5,000 for his career…Arenas’ 3-pointer in the second quarter snapped a streak of six consecutive games without a make beyond the arc. He was just 3 for 38 during that stretch…Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan sat court-side with sons Jeff and Marcus and their Central Florida teammate A.J. Rompza… Daniel Whitney (Larry the Cable Guy) was also in attendance for Sunday’s game.