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Orlando Magic 104, Charlotte Bobcats 95


Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor
Emeka Okafor and Dwight Howard, the second and first overall selections in the 2004 NBA Draft, respectively, shown during a break in the action during the Magic's 104-95 victory over the Bobcats on Friday night.
Photo by Fernando Medina, NBAE/Getty Images

Hedo Turkoglu's 28 points lead the Magic past the Bobcats on Friday night, 104-95. Dwight Howard was held to just 15 points, but proved too much for Emeka Okafor to handle, forcing the Bobcats' former second-overall draft pick to foul out. Here's the boxscore.

I was very pleased with the effort in this game. As the GameFlow shows, Charlotte rarely challenged after halftime, and when they did, the Magic always responded with a big run. The Magic played with intensity and seemed to actually care what was happening on the court. To be honest, I was surprised because before the game, all the Magic players were goofing around while warming up by dancing while shooting, attempting self-alley-oops off the backboard, etc. Meanwhile, the Bobcats went through a typical routine on their end, and looked more focused. Yet the Magic came out and dominated.

It was not a flawless effort for us, though. We allowed Jason Richardson to score 18 points, which is his per-game average, in the first quarter alone. He finished with 34, including several three-pointers down the stretch to keep his team in the game. Coach Van Gundy can't have been pleased with the lack of defense, especially early, but the mental toughness his team showed indicates that the ship has perhaps been righted, so to speak.

Rashard Lewis continued to struggle, scoring only 18 points, but he seemed to warm up in the third quarter.
He struggled early, though, missing several easy hook shots. At one point, the 6'10" Lewis posted-up the 6'4" Jeff McInnis on the left block, backed him all the way into the lane, and threw up a right-handed hook... that fell short and bounced off the rim. He can't continue to miss those bunny shots like that, especially not against defenders on whom he has a six-inch height advantage. Then again, maybe he can afford to as long as Turk continues to pick up his slack.  

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge Carlos Arroyo's good play. He shot just 6-of-14 for 16 points, but got off to a great start to set the tone: 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting, along with 2 assists, in six first-quarter minutes. His ability to answer Richardson's early buckets kept the crowd from throwing up its hands in despair. Kudos to 'Los. He may indeed take Jameer Nelson's starting role; Nelson was deactivated due to back spasms.

We'll see if the Magic can make it four wins in a row during a New Year's Eve matinee against the Bulls. Tipoff is 2 PM.