Bobcats top Magic for 6th win in row

Stephen Jackson scored 28 points, Raymond Felton had 16 and the

Charlotte Bobcats held on for their sixth straight victory, 96-89

over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.

Stephen Graham added 12 points to help the Bobcats pull away

with a late 12-3 run for their first win in four chances this

season against the Southeast Division leader. And they did it

without All-Star Gerald Wallace, out with an injured left ankle.

Dwight Howard had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and Vince Carter

finished with 23 points for the Magic, who had their eight-game

winning streak snapped. Mickael Pietrus added 20 points in place of

injured starter Matt Barnes, sidelined with a sprained left big

toe.

But this one belonged to the Bobcats.

The up-and-down Bobcats have now beaten Cleveland, Orlando

and the Lakers this season and are jostling for playoff position in

the Eastern Conference. Yet they’ve lost twice to a New Jersey team

that’s challenging for the worst record in NBA history.

This Bobcats’ win would be just as rocky.

They had a shot-clock violation, an inbounds-pass violation

and several passes that went awry in the opening half. Couple that

with some spotty defense in the paint, and Howard had the Magic

ahead by six points early.

Charlotte came back and went ahead 24-19 after Howard got in

foul trouble. The Bobcats cleaned up some of those mistakes and

held on to a slim lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Jason Williams’ 3-pointer brought the Magic within 72-71 to

start the final period. That did little to rattle Charlotte or

ignite an Orlando team that was sluggish a night after winning in

Washington.

The Bobcats battled with Howard inside, frustrating the Magic

center. He was called for an offensive foul for extending his arm

into Tyson Chandler. And after throwing the ball to the corner and

arguing with officials, Howard was whistled for his 14th technical

foul of the season.

That was all part of a 12-3 run for the Bobcats that pushed

them ahead 84-74 about halfway through the fourth. The Magic

trimmed the lead to 84-81 on a 3-pointer by Pietrus with 4:13

remaining, but Charlotte’s relentless defensive pressure kept it in

front.

Notes: Orlando would have tied a franchise record

with nine straight wins, done in 1994 and 2001. … Magic coach

Stan Van Gundy wasn’t exactly thrilled with the early 6 p.m. start

Sunday, especially not with losing an hour of sleep with Daylight

Savings. “When you’re in Washington the night before and you’re

setting the clocks an hour forward, I’m not sure that’s the thing

to do,” Van Gundy said. … Yankees ace CC Sabathia still managed

to arrive for the second half after pitching four innings and

giving up five runs in a 10-5 loss to the Pirates in Bradenton

earlier Sunday.