ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown assembled his team for practice Tuesday, delivering a fiery message to his players.
“Yesterday, Orlando took the day off,” Brown said. “That’s how … seriously they’re taking us.”
Brown and the Bobcats are looking for the franchise’s first playoff victory, and he’s making sure they’re willing to work for it.
While the Magic didn’t officially practice Monday, most players worked out at the team’s facility. Charlotte had organized team practices during both off days, and it’s searching for any means of motivation to even the series when it resumes for Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Charlotte swingman Gerald Wallace(notes) even went out of his way for the second straight day to make sure it was known his team is not intimidated by the Magic’s Dwight Howard(notes), who blocked nine shots in the opener and won the NBA’s defensive player of the year award for the second consecutive year.
“Dwight’s going to be Dwight,” Wallace said. “We can’t treat him like he’s Michael Jordan.”
The Magic aren’t expecting so much. But they do want more from their star duo.
Both attributed the poor showing to being too hyped up.
Howard was texting and calling Carter in the middle of the night before the opener, admitting later he was overanxious. The two have since talked privately about controlling their emotions, knowing they’ll need to produce more if the Magic want to compete for a title.
No more late-night chats before games, either.
“I try to sleep some times,” Carter said, laughing.
“I think our texting back and forth kind of got us a little excited, just because we want it so bad and we want to do it for our team,” Carter added. “It’s like I told him, ‘I’m not going to let you stand out there by yourself. And we’re going to all do it with you, and we’re going to all do it together.’ I think that confidence that your team is behind you can get you excited.
“I’ll tell you, it can get me excited.”
The concern for the Bobcats: They still lost despite shutting down the Magic’s powerful one-two punch.
Point guard Jameer Nelson(notes) shredded Charlotte’s backcourt, scoring 24 of his 32 points in the first half. The Magic built a 22-point lead, and only sputtered in the second half with Howard in foul trouble.
“Our big guys were so worried about Dwight Howard, that they forgot to help the guards,” Wallace said.
Charlotte also might be a little banged up.
Stephen Jackson(notes) is expected to start despite hyperextending his left knee in Game 1. He said he won’t wear any kind of brace around the knee, and doesn’t expect the injury to hamper his mobility too much.
“It’s not concerning. We know we can beat these guys. We can play with anybody,” Jackson said. “We feel like we can match up and guard anybody. Last time, the mismatches kind of got us out of rhythm. We switched so much. I think this next game we won’t switch so much.”
Maybe the extra practice will help, too.
Orlando was actually the only team to hold a morning shootaround Sunday with the 5:30 p.m. tipoff. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy also was questioned why he didn’t rest his players in the season’s final weeks with his team’s playoff seeding already secured, although the strategy helped Orlando take home the NBA’s second-best record.
Looking for motivation, the seventh-seeded Bobcats will look to make good on their coach’s words.
“To beat Orlando, you’ve got to play your best,” Brown said. “You can’t have three or more guys play good. You need everybody to play good. They can get away with maybe one or two guys not playing at the level they’re expected to, but we can’t.”