The Orlando Magic clinched the Eastern Conference's sixth playoff seed Wednesday evening as they offed the Charlotte Bobcats, 102-95, behind J.J. Redick's career-high 31 points. Orlando prevailed on the strength of the 37-24 advantage it built in the first quarter, as the Bobcats won or tied the second, third, and fourth periods, making the game much closer than it ought to have been. Charlotte has lost 22 straight games and will set a new NBA record for single-season futility, in terms of win percentage, if it drops its season finale.
Orlando did more than merely wrap up the sixth seed on Wednesday: it assured itself it would not suffer the indignity of losing twice to the Bobcats in one season. The Toronto Raptors are the only team to do so yet, and the New York Knicks have a chance to join them Thursday.
The Magic had to contend with the loss of another starter when Glen Davis, himself starting at center for Dwight Howard, rolled his right ankle in the first period and had to leave the game for good, leaving Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark, and Daniel Orton as Orlando's only power players. Anderson more than handled his business, scoring 24 points and snaring 13 rebounds--seven on the offensive end--in 42 minutes. Anderson managed to score efficiently despite his three-point shot eluding him, as he missed six of his eight attempts on the evening.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
Davis' absence left Orlando with few inside finishers, which explains the Magic's horrid 44.7 percent shooting in the paint, and why they attempted 38 of their 82 shots from beyond the arc. Redick led the way by sinking six of his 10 triple-tries, while Jason Richardson shot 3-of-7 from deep.
The Magic's propensity to foul helped Charlotte keep the game close, as the Bobcats shot 32 free throws to just 70 field goals. Richardson, Redick, Clark, and Orton committed four fouls apiece, while Jameer Nelson fouled out for the first time since November 10th, 2010.
In the midst of a lost, disappointing, frustrating season, Tyrus Thomas reaped the benefits of Orlando's foul-crazy defense, shooting 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. The starting backcourt of D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson went a perfect 12-of-12 on their trips. "Every big man we put in the game thought it was their job to foul immediately," coach Stan Van Gundy said.
With the sixth seed locked up and nothing to play for but pride, the Magic close out their season Thursday against the Memphis Grizzlies. It's certainly possible Orlando chooses to rest its to players for that game.