Magic drop sixth straight to sub-.500 teams
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A little rest turned out to be the perfect slump-buster for the Charlotte Bobcats.
A jolt from their speedy backcourt didn’t hurt, either.
Three days after getting flicked aside in a 27-point loss against Indiana, the Bobcats got 25 points from Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson added 17 as they broke out of a five-game losing streak with a 106-100 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
“It was very important to us,” Henderson said. “A lot of games recently we put ourselves in the hole to start the game and kind of have to climb uphill to try to get a win. It’s a tough thing.”
The Bobcats evened the season series with the Magic and now return home for four consecutive games, beginning with Sacramento on Saturday.
Charlotte started fast and shot the ball well throughout, with its field goal percentage hovering above 50 percent for most of the night. The Bobcats also shot 17 more free throws than Orlando, including some crucial ones in the final minute to secure the victory.
Their guard play off the bench was also big, with Ramon Sessions leading all reserves with 15 points and seven assists. The Bobcats also finished with just 11 turnovers.
“Perhaps maybe we’re not turning it over because some of the guys are being a little more responsible with the ball,” Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said. “And I think that also, as you’re playing through some things, it is the only way you can win on the road is if you take care of the ball.”
Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 23 points, followed by Jameer Nelson with 22.
Orlando has lost its last six games against teams with records below .500. Charlotte also became the ninth Magic opponent in 11 games to score at least 100 points.
The Magic seemed to be making some progress following their convincing win over Indiana on Wednesday, when they got production from both the perimeter and inside.
That flow was missing Friday, with Orlando racking up 15 turnovers and 28 fouls.
“They got off to a start that we didn’t anticipate — a 28- and 29-point first quarter,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “There are no off days.”
The Magic were flat throughout against the energized Bobcats, but trailed by just five entering the fourth quarter.
A pair of free throws by Nelson trimmed it to 98-94 with 1:13 to play, but he left the game on the ensuing Charlotte possession following a collision near midcourt.
Afflalo was called for a technical foul for making a demonstrative gesture after a no-call by a referee. Walker knocked down the resulting free throw, and two more to make it 101-94.
Afflalo redeemed himself with a three-point play to close within four, but Charlotte made enough free throws the rest of the way to hang on.
“It was more about our effort,” Magic center Nikola Vucevic said. “We didn’t play hard enough tonight. They came out real aggressive. They really wanted to win this game.”
Henderson scored nine of Charlotte’s first 11 points and finished the first half with 17 as the Bobcats took a 57-45 lead into the locker room.
Henderson and Walker combined for 33 points in the opening 24 minutes, pacing a Charlotte team that shot 59 percent (23 for 39). It was the best an opponent has shot against Orlando in any half this season.
The Magic didn’t have many crisp half-court sets and got only 11 minutes out of Glen Davis before he went to the bench with three fouls.
Walker’s scoring effort Friday was his first 20-point effort since the Bobcats’ last victory. Dunlap said he hopes it will help him continue to play with the freedom in the open court.
Walker said that faith and encouragement by the coaching staff is vital for his success.
“It’s all about confidence,” he said. “If your coach has confidence in you, that’s all you need. My teammates have confidence in me also. It’s just really easy to play with these guys.”
NOTES: Charlotte earned its first road win since Jan. 6, improving to 5-14 on the season. … Vucevic finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, ending his string of eight straight double-doubles.