Magic survive off-night from Howard to beat BobcatsNov 17, 2008 - 2:23 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard spent as much time on the bench Sunday as he did on the court - yet the Orlando Magic made do without him.
As their best player battled foul trouble and a lackluster offensive night, the Magic remained hot with a 90-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
"I'm just glad the team played with confidence," Howard said. "We really didn't play with a lot of effort in the first half. In the second half, we were able to correct that and really step up."
Howard entered the contest averaging 23.2 points and 14.8 rebounds and had registered a double-double in all but one game this season. But he got into early foul trouble and was uncharacteristically uninvolved in Orlando's offense, finishing with four points and an 0-for-3 shooting performance from the field.
"For us to take (Howard) out of the game the way we did and not come out with a win, it's definitely tough," Charlotte guard Raymond Felton said. "It's a bad loss for us."
But Hedo Turkoglu scored 20 points to lead a balanced scoring attack as the Magic won for the seventh time in eight games.
"We had guys step up tonight for us," Turkoglu said. "I was able to help out tonight and make some shots."
Turkoglu scored nine of his game-high total in the final period to hold off a pesky Bobcat squad. He opened the final quarter with a three-point play after Jared Dudley had pulled the Bobcats within two points.
"(Turkoglu) did a good job down the stretch," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He was able to get shots against Morrison and he made some big plays."
Mickael Pietrus scored five in the final period, including an important jumper midway through the fourth to give the Magic an eight-point cushion.
"Our defense was the key to tonight's win," Pietrus said. "This was a good win for us. We just need to continue to practice hard and hopefully things will continue to work out."
Keith Bogans put the final nail in the coffin with a 3-pointer from the right wing as the shot clock expired to give Orlando an 88-80 lead with 1:45 to play. Bogans pushed the lead to nine - Orlando's biggest edge of the night - with a pair of free throws.
Orlando fell behind by five at halftime but took control with a big third quarter. Raymond Felton's jump shot early in the period put the Bobcats in front, 51-47. But Pietrus scored five of the next seven points, including a 3-pointer that put the Magic ahead for good.
The Magic held off the Bobcats over the last few minutes even after Howard fouled out at the 3:18 mark of the final frame. The All-Star center played a season-low 26 minutes.
"Tonight just wasn't my night," Howard said. "Things didn't go my way tonight. But I'm not mad. I'm not upset. Actually, the last two games haven't been that great for me. I'm just happy we were able to get the win tonight."
Orlando had four of its starters in double figures with Pietrus scoring 18 and Rashard Lewis adding 17. Jameer Nelson collected 15, five rebounds and three assists.
Charlotte was led by Gerald Wallace's 19 points, while Adam Morrison chipped in 14 off the bench. Felton was the only other Bobcat to reach double figures with 14.
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