The Orlando Magic's homestand continued Friday with an impressive 110-105 win over the Charlotte Bobcats in overtime, giving Orlando consecutive victories for the first time since February. Arron Afflalo had a quiet night, but he proved to be Orlando's hero, drilling a three-pointer with seven seconds to play in the fourth period to send the game to overtime.
Josh McRoberts, a member of the Magic until the 2013 NBA trade deadline, torched his former team with a career-best 24 points and six three-pointers. Al Jefferson flanked McRoberts on the Bobcats' front line and posted a quietly efficient 20 points of his own. Kemba Walker posted 24 points and eight assists. And while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist didn't play as efficiently as Jefferson or McRoberts, needing 13 shots for 14 points, but he did provide seven rebounds and his cuts to the basket yielded key, high-percentage looks for the visitors.
For Orlando, Nik Vučević stood out once again: the third-year center posted 24 points and 23 rebounds, keeping Orlando in the game with his ability to prolong its own possessions while ending Charlotte's after one shot attempt in most instances. Tobias Harris came off the bench for another 15 points, marking the ninth time in his last 10 games he's reached double figures in reserve.
The Bobcats didn't race out to a 19-2 lead over Orlando like they did in January's win at Amway Center, but they came close: a 22-10 run to start the game, which featured four Bobcats three-pointers and a Kidd-Gilchrist dunk, prompted an early Magic timeout at the 6:48 mark. Because of a sudden onset of turnovers, the Magic failed to make inroads the rest of the period. Were it not for a last-second Harris shot over Cody Zeller, the Magic would have ended the period trailing by 16. And even counting about that basket, the Magic tallied more turnovers (eight) than buckets (seven) in the opening frame.
The Bobcats' offense went cold for the rest of the half, shooting 8-of-20 in the second quarter, with four turnovers, as the Magic closed to within nine points at intermission. A stronger finish from Orlando would have drawn it even closer, but Charlotte closed the half on a 7-2 run which included two inside buckets for Jefferson. Only Vučević's relentlessness on the glass kept Orlando in the game: the second-year center snared as many boards (16) at intermission as the entire visiting team did.
For a stretch of nearly four minutes in the third quarter, Orlando scored on six straight possessions to creep to within a point of the Bobcats at 59-58. Starting power forward Kyle O'Quinn came up big for the Magic in that stretch, scoring three baskets and assisting Vučević on another as Orlando made its run.
But then McRoberts rediscovered his shooting stroke, making triples on Charlotte's next two possessions to push its lead to seven points. As the Magic's offense stalled once again, the Bobcats again managed to push their lead to 11 points on a driving Kidd-Gilchrist score. The Magic countered with an aggressive mindset in the final two minutes, trimming four points off that deficit with driving buckets from Victor Oladipo on their final two possessions.
Thanks in part to O'Quinn's energy, the Magic worked their way back once again in the opening stages of the fourth quarter. The second-year center came up with three points, three rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot in the opening four-plus minutes of the period, helping to bring Orlando back to within a point of Charlotte. His energy at both ends of the court seemed to ignite Orlando, and it also enabled coach Jacque Vaughn to extend Vučević's time on the bench.
Oladipo, the Magic's other reliable sparkplug, stripped Walker shortly after Vučević replaced O'Quinn and streaked to the cup for a fast-break layup, knotting the score at 87, tying the score for the first time since the game tipped at nil-nil. Less than 90 seconds later, a short Vučević jumper gave Orlando its first lead of the night. As the ball dropped through the net, Vučević pumped his right fist twice in exultation as he jogged down the floor and Charlotte called for time.
McRoberts continued to exact his revenge moments later by hitting a go-ahead basket for Charlotte with less than a minute to play and then strongly contesting Vučević's layup attempt which would have vaulted Orlando back in the lead. Walker followed with a fading jumper to put the Bobcats up three points with 14.6 seconds to play.
After a Magic timeout, Afflalo and Vučević played a two-man game at the top of the arc, and after Vučević redirected Gerald Henderson with a moving screen, Afflalo sank a triple to tie the game. Walker's step-back deuce as time expired fell just off the mark to cinch the bonus period.
Jameer Nelson drilled a three-pointer with 2:26 to play in overtime to give Orlando a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Moments later, Nelson worked a pick-and-roll with Vučević which left Walker in the dust, leaving Jefferson the task of having to contain the veteran point guard. Nelson scooped in a layup just past Jefferson's outstretched hands to give Orlando a four-point edge with 30.8 seconds to play in overtime.