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Howard's 21 rebounds power Magic past Bobcats

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Before Friday's game against Orlando,
Charlotte Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he had never seen
anything like his team's rash of injuries.

Then it got worse.

Dwight Howard had 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, Hedo
Turkoglu scored 24 points, and the Magic beat the injury-riddled
Bobcats 104-93.

Already without Emeka Okafor (ankle), Kareem Rush (finger),
Melvin Ely (ankle) and Sean May (knee surgery), the Bobcats lost
leading scorer Gerald Wallace to a knee injury in the third
quarter.

A team official said Wallace sprained his left knee, but would
undergo an MRI exam either late Friday or early Saturday. He's out
at least four weeks, and Bickerstaff said he's running out of
options.

"If there's something out there that's close to what Gerald
represents, something's wrong, because I think that player is
already in the league," Bickerstaff said. "I think the guys are
beat up right now, but we have to recover."

The Bobcats were no match for the Magic, who were helped by the
return to the starting lineup of Steve Francis in his second game
back from suspension. Francis had 13 points and six assists despite
foul trouble as the Magic won their second straight game and
snapped an eight-game road losing streak.

"He picked up some fouls ... but that is where he belongs, out
there," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "He worked hard tonight and
did a good job."

Keith Bogans scored 19 points, Brevin Knight added 17 and
Wallace scored 12 before the injury for the Bobcats, who lost their
sixth straight game.

Wallace, who leads the NBA with 2.5 steals per game, came down
awkwardly on his left knee after being fouled by Tony Battie in a
battle for a rebound. He crumpled in pain near the foul line and
was down for several minutes. He was eventually helped to the
locker room without putting any pressure on his left leg.

"I couldn't straighten my leg or bend it," said Wallace, who
came in averaging 14.6 points. "It felt like I bumped knees at
first, but the pain got more and more intense. Then I didn't try to
get up. I don't really know what the diagnosis is, but I'm getting
ready to go over and get some tests done."

The Bobcats, trailing 68-52 when Wallace went down, never
challenged again, falling behind by as many as 21 points.

"I just hope somebody doesn't go down tomorrow night, because
this is getting ridiculous," center Primoz Brezec said.

Francis, who served a two-game suspension for declining to
re-enter a game last week, came off the bench for only the third
time in his career in Wednesday's win over Washington, his first
game back. He hit two jumpers early in the second half to give the
Magic a 61-45 lead with 9:25 left.

"It felt good to play. I don't like to sit at home," Francis
said. "I don't anticipate anything of this sort will happen again.
It is behind me. We'll just continue to move forward."

Orlando, 3-0 against Charlotte this season, held a 48-40
rebounding advantage to overcome 16 turnovers against the hard-luck
Bobcats.

"I feel for Bernie and his team," Hill said. "I hope Wallace
is OK. When it rains, it pours."
^Notes:@ With forward Jake Voskuhl (five points, seven rebounds)
returning from his sprained ankle, the Bobcats dressed more than 10
players (11) for only the second time in eight games before Wallace
went down. ... Okafor remains in a walking boot and doesn't appear
close to returning. ... Magic forward Grant Hill refused to answer
questions about his abdominal injury before the game. He's expected
to miss another week. ... Kelvin Cato did not travel with the Magic
after spraining his ankle Wednesday.