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Bobcats get a rare victory

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO - When you win as rarely as the Charlotte Bobcats have recently, it's easy to appreciate the wins you do get, and especially ones like this.

The lowly Bobcats looked like a good team again, snapping a five-game losing streak and rolling to a well-played, 106-100 victory over the Orlando Magic Friday night.

The Bobcats, who had lost 24 of their previous 26 games, got 25 points and eight assists from promising point guard Kemba Walker, and never trailed through the final three periods.

"It feels good. It always feels good to go out and get a win," Walker said. "We're a young team that is getting better every night out. You win like this, you try and incorporate the things you learned into the next game and get better. We got stops. We pushed the tempo. We want to do the same thing the next time."

The Bobcats (10-29) outrebounded the Magic 43-36. They committed just 11 turnovers. They outplayed the Magic through much of the game. They led by as many as 13 points early in the fourth, then held off a late Magic rally.

Arron Afflalo scored 23 points for the Magic, but he committed a costly technical foul with 51 seconds remaining and the Magic within four points. Walker hit the next three free throws to put the game out of reach.

Jameer Nelson had 22 points, but he left with 58 seconds remaining when he got knocked to the floor by center Brendan Haywood, who was called for setting an illegal screen.

Charlotte reserve Ramon Sessions had 15 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter when the Bobcats held off that late Magic charge. Gerald Henderson added 18 points for the Bobcats.

"This is a young team that's learning how to win," Sessions said. "And anytime you get a win now, it's a good win. This is one you try to build upon, use as a learning experience. It's a good one."

The Magic (14-25) continued their up-and-down ways this month, also losing to lowly Washington, while beating good teams like the Clippers and Pacers.

"They got off to a start we didn't anticipate," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "That's the great thing about the NBA, that as soon as you take a sigh, another team comes in and is ready to go. There are no off days. You have to be ready."

The Magic, already missing forward Hedo Turkoglu, could be without Nelson when they return to action Sunday against Dallas. Nelson was diagnosed with a bruised hip, and he limped off the court. Glen Davis, in just his second game back after a shoulder injury, struggled with a sore back Friday. Davis had just four points and five personal fouls in 24 minutes.

The Bobcats got 17 points from Gerald Henderson, but he hardly played in the second half because his back tightened up. The Bobcats play Saturday night at home against Sacramento.

The Bobcats, who were allowing 103.5 points (last in the league), broke away in the second period when they limited the Magic to just 17 points. They also withstood a final Magic rally.

"We just attacked, and did some good things tonight," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "But now you have to learn to build on that, and move forward."

After trailing by 12 at halftime, the Magic cut the deficit to 76-71 going into the fourth quarter. J.J. Redick, who had only one point in the first half, closed the third quarter by hitting the Magic's final three baskets, including a pair of 3-pointers. He finished with 13 points.

The Bobcats led 57-45 at halftime, riding a hot start from their starting backcourt. Henderson had 17 points and Walker 16 before intermission.

The Magic offered little resistance early, allowing the Bobcats to shoot 59 percent in those first two quarters.

Nelson had 13 points and hit three of his six 3-pointers in the first half, but the Orlando front court struggled.

NOTES: Sessions hasn't started a game this season, but has carved a niche as a player who can get to the free-throw line, which is why he has some value moving toward the trade deadline. Although he is averaging only 26.6 minutes per game, Sessions came into Friday's game ranked sixth in the league in free throws made (177) and eighth in free throws attempted (210). "He's like a coach on the floor out there," said Dunlap. "He just knows the game, and how it's played." ... Vaughn, who rarely expresses his opinions with the media, was talking about NBA point guards before Friday's game. "I played with, and against, two of the best (point guard) finishers who ever played this game," he said, referring to Tony Parker of San Antonio, and former player Rod Strickland. ... Dunlap coached Magic rookie Maurice Harkless last season at St. John's University. They exchanged a hug before the game. ... It's hard to believe now, but the Bobcats started the season with a 7-5 record. ... It's no surprise that the Magic came out firing 3-pointers Wednesday. They hit 12 of them Wednesday and the Bobcats are the NBA's worst team at defending the long ball, allowing opponents to shoot 39 percent from 3-point range.
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