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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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