Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/6

Game 1: Saturday, November 6th
Game 2: Friday, January 7th
Game 3: Monday, March 21st
Game 4: Thursday, March 24th

Bobcats 108

(14-53, 3-31 away)

Magic 94

(32-36, 21-11 home)

    7:00 PM ET, March 24, 2005

    Amway Arena, Orlando, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHA 29 24 22 33108
    ORL 27 24 22 2194

    Top Performers

    Charlotte: G. Wallace 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Orlando: J. Nelson 18 Pts, 7 Reb, 13 Ast, 1 Stl

    Charlotte wins three of last four meetings

    ORLANDO (AP) -- The Orlando Magic's playoff hopes are shrinking, and not even a home game against the expansion Charlotte Bobcats could stop the slide.

    The Bobcats, who had won just twice on the road all season, made it three with a 108-94 victory over the Magic on Thursday night behind 23 points and 10 rebounds from rookie Emeka Okafor.

    It was Charlotte's second win over Orlando in the last four days and the third time the Bobcats beat the Magic in four games this season.

    The Magic have lost nine of their last 10.

    Though they're tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, a game and a half out of the last playoff position, the Magic's recent play makes them a long shot to qualify for the postseason.

    "We need some leadership both from the coaching staff and our veterans to say 'Hey, listen, we still have a lot of games left,' " said Magic coach Chris Jent, 1-3 since taking over for Johnny Davis. "People are writing us off, but stranger things have happened. We have to not feel sorry for ourselves but go out there and play a game we love."

    While Okafor registered his 36th double-double of the season, he had plenty of help. Gerald Wallace and Primoz Brezec each scored 20 for Charlotte, which broke the game open in the middle of the fourth quarter with a 12-2 run.

    "This game shows we're learning, we're evolving," Okafor said. "We've been in situations like this before and learned from our mistakes. We never panicked, we never rushed, we stayed poised the whole way."

    The Bobcats led for all but two possessions of the game, but were nursing an 83-82 lead in the fourth quarter when they made their decisive run. Jason Hart, who had 18 points off the bench, started it with a 3-pointer and Okafor finished it with free throw that made it 95-84 with 3:37 left.

    In between, the Magic hit only one of 10 shots and turned the ball over three times.

    They never got the deficit under eight the rest of the game despite 28 points from Grant Hill. Rookie Dwight Howard had 14 points and 15 rebounds and Jameer Nelson had his first career double-double with 18 points and 13 assists.

    "I thought we were about to take off, but we never went anywhere," Jent said. "Every mistake we made, they finished with a lob or a layup and we weren't able to do anything with their mistakes."

    Charlotte jumped out to an early 21-9 lead, but the Magic cut their deficit to 53-51 by halftime. Nelson, who hasn't had a double-double all season, had 11 points and 10 assists in the first half.

    The Magic finally caught Charlotte when Howard converted a driving layup to give Orlando a 60-59 lead with 8:43 left in the third quarter, but the advantage was short-lived. Brevin Knight, who had 15 points, 15 assists and eight steals, hit a jump shot at the other end to put Charlotte back in front, and the Bobcats didn't trail again.

    Game notes

    The Magic placed F Hedo Turkoglu on the injured list with a fractured wrist and signed G Mark Jones to a 10-day contract. Jones averaged 20.4 points a game for the Great Lakes Storm of the CBA. ... Howard has started all 68 games for Orlando. He could become the first high school player in league history to start all 82 games. ... The Magic play 10 of their final 15 games at home. ... The Magic lead the NBA in rebounding after placing 24th last season. ... The Bobcats used the same starting five they had on opening night. It was only the second time that group played together.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 108 94
    FGM-FGA 39-86 (.453) 36-89 (.404)
    3PM-3PA 3-10 (.300) 3-10 (.300)
    FTM-FTA 27-34 (.794) 19-25 (.760)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-41 19-50
    Assists 26 17
    Turnovers 10 18
    Steals 13 3
    Blocks 7 7
    Fast Break Points 19 19
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (2/0) 23 (3/0)
    Largest Lead 16 2

    Top Performers

    Gerald Wallace Wallace
    Points: 22
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2
    Jameer Nelson Nelson
    Points: 18
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 13
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0