Free throws help Bobcats beat Magic 111-101

KYLE HIGHTOWER Associated Press Published:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Bobcats haven't had a lot of positives things to smile about this month.

One thing they have done well this season is shoot their free throws, and on Friday night it helped them secure a much-needed victory.

Al Jefferson had 30 points and 16 rebounds, Kemba Walker added 19 points and 10 assists and the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Orlando Magic 111-101.

The Magic dug out of an 18-point first-half hole and pulled to 78-76 early in the fourth quarter. However, the Bobcats shot 16 for 20 on free throws in the final period to help secure the win.

"I like the way we played. We had good fight," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "There were times there where we could have caved, but we showed good poise and good execution."

Josh McRoberts and Gerald Henderson added 17 points apiece for Charlotte.

Charlotte had lost nine of 11 entering the night and was coming off a last-second loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Bobcats appeared to be cruising early against Orlando before having to fend off the Bobcats' late charge.

Jefferson said he is still working his way back from an ankle injury during Charlotte's loss at home to Orlando last month.

"I'm getting a better feel and still trying to work around this ankle, but it's something I can deal with for the remainder of the year, just play through it," he said.

Walker said their offense is a lot more fluid when Jefferson is touching the ball.

"We want to play through him," Walker said. "We get opportunities on fast breaks and things like that, but whenever we can get him the basketball we want to because he makes all the right plays.

"We're trying our best to get better every day at playing off him."

Orlando committed 16 turnovers in the loss, and extended its season-high losing streak to 10 games.

Arron Afflalo scored 24 points in his return to the Magic lineup after missing three games with a strained right foot, and Tobias Harris and Jameer Nelson each added 18.

The Magic are also now 0-12 this season without center Nik Vucevic, who missed his sixth straight game Friday as he works his way back from a concussion.

The Magic looked sluggish early coming off a three-hour, triple-overtime loss to Chicago on Wednesday that saw their starters play at least 43 minutes each.

Orlando connected on just 1 of their first 10 field goal attempts to begin the game, allowing the Bobcats to jump out to a 21-3 lead.

The Magic found some energy as they closed the half on a 50-31 spurt to take a one-point lead into halftime.

Charlotte's shooting kept them in the game, though, and they took a 78-74 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats seemed to be in control late at 103-91, but Afflalo scored six straight points -- including a four-point play -- to get the Magic back to 103-97 with 2:55 to play.

But Jefferson scored six straight points as Charlotte responded with an 8-4 run to close out the game.

Harris acknowledged that the Magic's ongoing shortcomings are beginning to show their wear on the team a little.

Just like their one-day turnaround following the overtime loss to Chicago, they have just one day to correct their issues before hosting Boston on Sunday.

"I think tonight we did show poor body language throughout the fourth quarter," Harris said. "And it's tough because we weren't making that many shots and they were making some tough shots. It is human nature. But going forward we have to cut that out and we have to be locked in on our team and what we can control."

Jefferson said there is no real secret to what his team needs to do to gain some momentum as it heads into the second half of its schedule.

"We talk about not using any excuses as a young team. We have enough talent in this room to be a playoff team," he said. "We have to find a way to get out there and win games. We have to continue to play 48 minutes and keep our mindset and our focus."

NOTES: The Bobcats snapped a three-game road losing streak. ... Orlando is now 1-22 this season when its opponent scores 100 or more points. ... The Magic honored Horace Grant between the first and second quarter as part of the team's season-long "Legends Nights" series to commemorate its 25th anniversary season. Grant played six plus years for Orlando from 1994 to 1999 and 2001 to 2003.

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