Magic Win 111-102, Eliminate Bobcats From Playoffs
Written by Mike Cranston, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, 06 April 2011 20:23
Gilbert Arenas scored 25 points, and the Orlando Magic overcame Quentin Richardson's ejection and Dwight Howard's 18th technical foul to beat Charlotte 111-102 in overtime on Wednesday night and eliminate the Bobcats from playoff contention.
Jameer Nelson atoned for two turnovers in the closing seconds of regulation by hitting a jumper and banking in a 3-pointer in Orlando's 12-2 run to open the extra period. Brandon Bass added 19 points for the Magic, who secured their fourth consecutive 50-win season.
A year after sweeping the Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs, Orlando ended Charlotte's postseason hopes and allowed Indiana to clinch the final Eastern Conference spot.
Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 32 points for the Bobcats and was the receiving end of Richardson's two-handed shove to the face early in the fourth quarter that could earn Richardson a suspension.
Howard, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and six blocks, is facing another one-game suspension — for Sunday's showdown with East-leading Chicago — for again failing to control his temper.
The Bobcats played a fourth straight game — all losses — without top scorer Stephen Jackson, who told coach Paul Silas he was going to play, but then couldn't get his troublesome left hamstring loose in pregame warmups.
After blowing an 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats staged a dramatic comeback and nearly won it in regulation to stay alive in the playoff chase for another day.
With Orlando ahead 96-93, Henderson stole Nelson's deflected pass, leading to D.J. Augustin's tying 3-point attempt with 16 seconds left.
After a timeout, Nelson ran down the clock until Augustin pickpocketed him. He drove in for the winning layup, but Nelson made him go to the opposite side of the hoop, and the ball rolled off the rim at the buzzer.
The Magic quickly ended the suspense by scoring the first nine points of OT for their eighth straight win over Charlotte.
The Magic, who have already locked up the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, sat guard Jason Richardson. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Richardson needs some time off because of tendinitis in his left knee.
And after another sluggish performance, Howard and Quentin Richardson may be facing forced time off.
The good news for the Magic involved Arenas, who started and scored the most points since being acquired by Orlando earlier this season. He shot 9 of 14, but struggled to contain Henderson at the other end.
Henderson shattered his previous career high of 22 points by hitting 12 of 22 shots while shaking off Richardson's actions.
Henderson was trying to dribble out of pressure early in the fourth quarter when Richardson was called for a foul. Apparently upset over an elbow from Henderson earlier in the play, Richardson confronted Henderson and appeared to poke him in his right eye.
Henderson shoved him to get away before Richardson put both open hands on Henderson's face and jerked his head backward.
Howard's trouble stems from taking too long to shoot a free throw.
Referee Bennett Salvatore hit Howard with a rare 10-second violation before a second foul shot late in the second quarter. As the crowd jeered, Howard tossed the ball toward the baseline and away from any official and Salvatore hit him with a technical and ensuing suspension if it's upheld.
The Bobcats shot 57 percent from the field and led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but couldn't hold on as owner Michael Jordan watched the franchise eliminated from the playoff race for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Notes: Van Gundy said Jason Richardson has been playing in pain for some time. "We targeted this time because we're going to take a couple days off after this game and he can get now three straight days of rest," Van Gundy said. ... Silas said tests showed Thomas has not sustained more damage to his surgically repaired left knee and the swelling has subsided, but he remains in too much pain to play. "He has to decide that himself — if he can go," Silas said. ... While Silas had high praise for Howard, he thinks Chicago's Derrick Rose should get the nod for league MVP.