Magic tune up for playoffs with win

Preview | Box Score | Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—The end of the regular season brought little for the Orlando Magic to celebrate.

The Magic have had plenty of great regular seasons before and are limping into this postseason with high expectations.

Tony Battie had 21 points, Mickael Pietrus scored 19 and the Magic tuned up for the playoffs with a 98-73 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

“I think they did everything they could do during the regular season,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I’m not even savoring it. But I have a lot of appreciation, I won’t say savoring, but I have a lot of appreciation for what guys do.”

Dwight Howard had 10 points and 12 rebounds in limited minutes to help Orlando snap its season-longest three-game losing streak without starting forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. The third-seeded Magic will face sixth-seeded Philadelphia this weekend in the first round of the playoffs.

The Magic have said anything less than a title will be short of their goal.

“What else would the goal be?” Battie said. “A championship is what’s on our mind.”

The only bright note to the end of another losing season for the Bobcats (35-47) is that they finished with the best record in franchise history—two wins better than the 2006-07 team. Charlotte lost its final four games, all on the road, and seven of its last eight.

“I think we made progress, and we’ve got a chance to get better,” Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. “It’s hard to assess your season after a night like tonight, but we have to play a lot of young people and we know how far we have come.”

The Magic took care of business early and rested late.

Battie’s put-back dunk on a missed jumper by Courtney Lee powered a 17-3 first-quarter run for the Magic. Howard had five points and four rebounds in the period and played only the first and third quarters, but he wasn’t needed.

Orlando’s reserves had this one.

Backup center Marcin Gortat capped a 13-4 Magic spurt in the second quarter with a rim-rattling, two-hand dunk on a foul called on Juwan Howard. Pietrus hit a pair of 3-pointers to help Orlando go ahead by 22 points before the half.

Raymond Felton had 13 points, and Nazr Mohammed added 12 for the Bobcats, who never came close.

“It is not a satisfying season,” Felton said. “But at the same time, it felt good and we were productive.”

The Magic (59-23) finished with the second-best record in franchise history, one win shy of the 1995-96 team led by Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway. But there are plenty of questions surrounding Orlando heading into the postseason.

Turkoglu missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, and Lewis missed the last three games with right knee tendinitis. Neither is expected to miss time in the playoffs.

The Magic also had bad losses to New York, Toronto, New Jersey and Milwaukee — all teams that missed the playoffs—in the final two weeks that cost them the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed. The losses were in part because of injuries, but also poor defensive play.

“If we play consistent basketball,” Howard said, “we can beat anybody.”

Notes

The Magic were 3-0 against the 76ers this season, with two of those games at Philadelphia. … Magic guard J.J. Redick addressed the home crowd before the game, thanking fans for their support on behalf of the team. “It’s been a great regular season, but we look forward to your support as we make our run toward a championship this weekend,” Redick said. … Bobcats guard Raja Bell missed his sixth straight game with a calf injury.

Related Articles

Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Charlotte
D. Jefferson Dontell Jefferson
3-5,  10 Pts
5 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Orlando
T. Battie Tony Battie
9-16,  21 Pts
9 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Apr 15