Alston makes Orlando debut, leads Magic over BobcatsFeb 21, 2009 - 4:25 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The first night of the Rafer Alston era went off without a hitch for the Orlando Magic. Now all they have to do is make sure it keeps up for the next two months or so.
In their first game since acquiring the veteran point guard at Thursday's trade deadline, the Magic erased the memory of an ugly loss to New Orleans the night before, pummeling the Charlotte Bobcats for most of a 92-80 triumph on Friday night.
As the centerpiece of one of the only impactful trades made this week, Alston had a hefty responsibility as he took the floor in the blue-and-black for the first time. He came off the bench and missed almost all his shots, but seemed to settle down an offense that had looked frantic and out of sync in the six games since learning All-Star Jameer Nelson would miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
"It was fun and exciting," Alston said. "Everywhere I look on the floor I had a weapon to pass it to. I think point guards in this league would love to be in this situation."
More than anything, the Magic looked normal again. Dwight Howard controlled the paint, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu attacked from the wings and all was right - for one night, at least.
"Rafer was nice. He's been a great player all his career," Turkoglu said. "He's a pass-first-and-then-shoot guy. He was creating stuff for everybody, and we were knocking down shots."
Orlando took control with a big second quarter and was rarely threatened thereafter. Mickael Pietrus and Lewis connected from the arc to spark an 18-6 run and open up a 15-point lead. With six minutes left in the period, Alston found Lewis for a 3-pointer.
Just seconds later, Marcin Gortat stripped Boris Diaw on the other end and set Lewis up for another three.
"We will get back to playing Magic basketball. We just have to get adjusted," Howard said. "I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. Some guys were afraid because of the trade deadline and weren't focused on playing. Now everyone knows they're going to be here for the rest of the season and are playing calm. It's time to get the job done."
Coming off his second career All-Star selection and a runner-up showing in the 3-point Shootout, Lewis went 5-of-5 from the arc in the second quarter alone.
The Magic extended their advantage to as high as 22 points in the third, as Lewis stepped inside the arc - for once - and buried a jumper from 14 feet to kick off a brief, 9-3 run. Turkoglu knocked down a 3-pointer and added a pair of free throws to open up a 77-55 edge.
"We had a lot of guys create tonight," Turkoglu said. "Rafer came just today and played really nice. We played together and were able to knock down shots."
Turkoglu led all players with 24 points and Lewis added 18. Alston, who played 29 minutes behind starter Anthony Johnson, dished out eight assists despite hitting just 1-of-9 from the field. Howard posted 13 points, 16 boards and six blocks.
"Our defense was much better tonight," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Dwight had a lot of rebounds and six blocks. What I like about that is that he didn't play a great game offensively, but he played great on defense even being in foul trouble."
Raymond Felton led the Bobcats with 16 points but was just 6-of-18 from the floor. Boris Diaw added 15 points.
"We didn't pass the ball; our point guards took 29 shots," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "We never got into anything and when you're playing in a game like this, when they're executing and making outside shots, you've got to run something."
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