By Ed Niser
The Charlotte Bobcats returned to the Queen City Saturday evening for a playoff rematch with the Orlando Magic. Their quest for revenge came up short on a missed buzzer beater from point guard D.J. Augustin falling to the Magic 91-88.
Orlando was headlined in the first half by Dwight Howard with 16 points, 13 of those points came in the first quarter alone.
Charlotte ended the first half trailing the Magic 43-36, despite solid point distribution around the starting five headed by Gerald Wallace with 12 points.
The Charlotte offensive surge was headed by Wallace, who would finish the game with 25 points but it would not be enough as Howard and Rashard Lewis knocked down 22 points apiece for the Magic.
The third quarter was where the Bobcats would begin to slowly slip out of the game, trailing by as much as 18 points.
“We should have teams on their toes and we don’t do that until we are down 20 or 15 and we’re fighting back,” said Wallace. “Initially if a team comes out and starts letting them go, by the fourth quarter those shots are much easier to take. If they’re aggressive, I think those are the keys to the game and that’s the scenario we are putting ourselves in.”
Jackson made a strong drive to the paint with 32 seconds left in the game to cut the lead to within one, 89-88.
Richardson retaliated with a runner in the paint to put what would eventually be the dagger in the hearts of the Bobcats.
Charlotte would get two more chances. Boris Diaw would take the first of the two shots from long distance and he failed to connect. The Bobcats would get possession back with 0.8 seconds remaining in the game on a well covered inbound pass to Augustin, but the shot was airmailed as time expired.
“The play was great I think they got away with a lot of holding, but they made us take a tough shot that we didn’t want to take,” said Jackson on the final shot.
Charlotte drops to 1-4 on the young season and are in the midst of a two game losing streak. The Bobcats seem to be plagued by a weak third quarter in each of their losses this season.
“We have the will and the heart to fight,” explained Wallace. “We’re like a boxer but we don’t start until after the sixth round until we’re all swollen up. We need to come out in the first round and establish our jab. We need to come out and be the aggressor and make a statement and right now we’re not doing that.”
The Bobcats now have their sights set on San Antonio, as the Spurs come into Time Warner Cable Arena Monday evening at 7 p.m.