Score: 106-95 (OT) Orlando Magic
Charlotte Bobcats record: 21-21
Offensive Efficiency: 97.9
Defensive Efficiency: 106.0
Meritorious Players: D.J. Augustin was the only reason the Bobcats were in this one – 22 points on 14 attempts, 8 of those 14 and including 5 of 9 from distance. There were just 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 turnover accompanying those points in his line – but in 29 minutes in a game where the rest of the team was struggling to score, it was huge.
And why might the rest of the team been struggling to score? Oh, right, that Dwight Howard fellow. 20 rebounds for Dwight and 7 blocks – and it felt like more. For large parts of the game, the Bobcats did not even bother to drive into the paint, just looking for something on the perimeter rather than challenge D-12. Unfortunately, only D.J. had any success from beyond the 3-point line, as the rest of the team went just 4 of 18 from beyond the triple line. Boris Diaw was particularly timid, launching 6 threes (making just 1), but he did redeem himself to a degree with 10 rebounds, including 4 offensive caroms, plus 5 assists. Gerald Wallace also had a Boris-y kind of game, going just 2 of 11 from the floor, and it was after halftime before he got his first points. Gerald also cracked double figures in rebounds, with a tidy 10 defensive boards.
Aside from that, Nazr Mohammed tried to dunk on Dwight Howard every chance he got – and though he did not manage to actually cram on the big man, he did get fouled on two of the attempts. Nazr finished with 12 and 9 in 24 minutes – but the Bobcats forcing the ball to him in the post to try and further Dwight's “foul trouble” was not particularly successful – the Bobcats managed an offensive efficiency of just 70.5 with Nazr on the court. With DeSagana Diop on the court, and the Magic free to sag off him whenever he was not in the immediate basket area, the Bobcats were forced to run their standard offense, and that worked a good bit better – an efficiency of 120.0 with Diop getting burn. Oh, and I but foul trouble in quotes regarding Dwight because he picked up one quick in the first quarter – and the Bobcats seemed to spend the rest of the quarter trying to get another one. They failed.
Not sure how to segue from that to how it reached overtime, so I will do it abruptly – once the Bobcats started running their offense, they managed to make a game of it and made enough plays down the stretch to send it to overtime. And overtime was decidedly almost immediately: Jameer Nelson hit a tough step-back jumper over D.J. to take the 2 point, the Bobcats followed with a missed 3, then 2 free throws for Nelson, then Dwight blocked a Raymond drive and wide open Matt Barnes hit a 3 from the corner to make it a 7 point game less than a minute and a half into overtime. Considering the Bobcats managed just 3 into OT, that was plenty.
Overtime is a crap shoot – the Bobcats showed toughness fighting back into this game despite the Magic taking a second half lead of 16. Had the Bobcats managed to corral the loose ball that resulted on the jumpball of overtime, maybe things turn out differently. As it is, they head on their road trip at .500 – and if you had offered that to fans at the start of the season, they would have jumped on it.