The Charlotte Bobcats remain very much alive in their pursuit of
a playoff berth thanks to a four-game winning streak.
The banged-up club, though, could have a hard time extending its
run against its next opponent.
Looking for a season-best fifth consecutive victory, the
visiting Bobcats hope to avoid a 10th loss in 11 meetings with the
Orlando Magic when the teams meet Friday night.
Ninth-place Charlotte (32-42) defeated Cleveland 98-97 on
Wednesday night to remain one game behind Indiana for the eighth
and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It was a good win for us,” guard Gerald Henderson said of the
team’s fourth straight victory – three of which have come by two
points or fewer.
“All of these games down the stretch, no matter who we’re
playing, are all big for us,” Henderson added. “The Pacers won
(Wednesday), so it just goes to show that we can’t really worry
about what they’re doing. We just have to win our own games and see
While the Bobcats have limited opponents to an average of 92.5
points during their run, they’ve made just 11 of 48 (22.9 percent)
from 3-point range and have scored only 95.5 points per game.
In contrast, the Magic (47-28) haven’t been able to overcome
their recent offensive struggles.
After turning the ball over a season-high-tying 21 times in a
113-106 overtime loss at New York on Monday night, Orlando shot
41.6 percent from the floor in Wednesday night’s 85-82 road loss to
Dwight Howard was held to 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting after
getting into early foul trouble. Howard, though, did record 13
rebounds for his season-best 32nd consecutive double-double.
“Things are definitely hard for us when Dwight gets in foul
trouble,” said guard Jameer Nelson, who scored 20 points after
sitting out against the Knicks with a sprained left knee. “He’s who
we are. We play through him. Offensive and defensively, he’s our
Howard, who had a career-high 45 points and added 19 rebounds
and eight blocks in a 107-102 overtime win over Charlotte on Feb.
17, 2009, isn’t concerned about the club’s lackluster play.
“We’ll be a different team in the playoffs,” Howard told the
Magic’s official website. “It’s a different animal in the playoffs.
We’re not worried about it and we’re going to play. We’ll be
healthy and well-rested.”
Charlotte could have an especially tough time containing Howard
with a depleted front line that learned Thursday it will be without
center Joel Przybilla (knee) for the rest of the season. That
leaves Kwame Brown as the team’s only healthy center.
Leading scorer Stephen Jackson is also expected to miss Friday’s
game, along with Tyrus Thomas and Shaun Livingston, all dealing
with nagging injuries.
“We were short-handed (Wednesday) so the guys had to step up and
they did,” coach Paul Silas said. “They just won’t give up, and I
love these guys and what they’re putting out right now.”
While Jackson, averaging 18.5 points, has been hindered by
injury, Henderson has stepped up to average 14.4 points in the last
13 games – 5.7 more than his season mark.
Forward Boris Diaw matched season bests with 26 points and 11
assists against the Cavaliers.
Guards Chris Duhon (thumb), J.J. Redick (abdomen) and Quentin
Richardson (back) are uncertain to play for Orlando.
The Magic have held Charlotte to an average of 87.7 points
during their 9-1 stretch in the series. The Bobcats were 3-26 when
scoring 90 points or fewer this season before winning their last
Orlando has taken 11 of 13 all-time at home against Charlotte –
including a 100-86 victory Feb. 27 despite 35 points from