The Bobcats rallied in the second half, and got a running jumper
from Brevin Knight with 12.4 seconds to play to break their 10-game
losing streak with a 102-97 victory over the Magic on Monday night.
The loss seemed to devastate the Magic, who dropped a half-game
behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the
"It's frustrating, but we're going to get to the playoffs,"
Dwight Howard vowed. "We've got 15 more games left. We can't let
any more slip away like this."
The Magic went into the game without Steve Francis, who was
suspended three games by the NBA earlier Monday for kicking a
photographer last week. He sat out his first game on Saturday -- an
Orlando win -- but the Magic couldn't make it two in a row without
their star guard.
It made for a long night for interim coach Chris Jent, who
dropped to 1-1 since taking over after Johnny Davis was fired last
week amid a seven-game losing streak.
"They kept playing. They outplayed us," Jent said. "It takes
a lot of commitment to play 48 minutes. We gave a great effort, but
we played a half of basketball and that's not enough."
The Bobcats got a lift from Knight, who carried them to the win
while playing with five fouls.
Charlotte led just 97-95 after Hill made a pair of free throws
with 31 seconds to play. The Bobcats called a timeout to draw up a
play for Knight, who patiently dribbled at the top of the key while
the clock ticked away.
He then beat Jameer Nelson off the dribble, and scored over
6-foot-11 Howard -- no easy task for the diminutive 5-10 Knight.
Nelson was called for a foul and Knight made the free throw for a
100-95 lead with 12.4 seconds left.
"I knew once I got the step on him that he'd have to body and
foul. The next thing was just trying to concentrate and get the
ball up to the rim," Knight said. "It went in so it turned out to
be a good play for us."
After DeShawn Stevenson scored for the Magic, they fouled
Knight, who hit both his free throws to lock up the win.
Knight finished with 19 points, eight assists and three steals.
"He's a floor general," said Emeka Okafor, who had 17 points
and 13 rebounds. "He can go out there and score when he needs to.
He thinks pass first, shoot second, but he can hit the shot when he
Hill led Orlando with 25 points and Howard had 21 points and 13
rebounds -- but he scored just two points in the second half.
Nelson finished with 18 points and Hedo Turkoglu scored all 11
of his in the second half.
Charlotte lost Keith Bogans late in the first half when he fell
to the floor and had to be helped off the court with back spasms
that sidelined him the rest of the game.
Also injured was Carroll, who collided with Stevenson in the
first half and left the game with a split lip that needed stitches.
He returned in time to replace Bogans in the starting lineup at the
start of the second half.
As coach of four different NBA teams, Bernie Bickerstaff
can relate to recent rash of NBA firings. "That's pro sports. You
don't like it, you don't have to work in the business,"
Charlotte's coach said. "You are all right as long as you don't
take yourself too seriously." ... Turkoglu injured his back late
in the fourth quarter, but continued to play, wincing with just
about every move. .. Orlando general manager John Weisbrod was
stopped by Charlotte Coliseum security for the second time this
season. In a November visit here, Weisbrod was questioned because
security found him nervously pacing around the parking lot after
the Magic fell behind.