NBA: Magic routs Bobcats for 2-0 series lead
By Brian Schmitz
The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — Dwight Howard said go ahead, rub the top of his head.
Two little lumps.
"I got two horns," Howard said, not pleased in the least.
Bumps and bruises aside, Howard and the Orlando Magic also have a 2-0 lead against the Charlotte Bobcats after throttling them, 92-77, in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
The first-round playoff series heads to Charlotte, N.C., for Game 3 on Saturday.
The physical play picked up — not to hockey level — but there was enough chippiness to go around in this defensive slugfest.
"I love it," small forward Matt Barnes said. "That's what the playoffs are all about."
Howard and Wallace tangled underneath in the final quarter. Frustrated by the in-fighting, Howard took a swipe at Wallace's head, making contact. No foul was called, but that doesn't mean the NBA can't review the play.
Wallace did not make it an issue but indicated the Bobcats must scratch and claw more to survive.
Only 14 teams in NBA history have won a best-of-seven series after trailing 2-0.
Like in Orlando's 98-89 Game 1 victory, Howard again battled through foul trouble, held to another 28-minute night. Backup Marcin Gortat was re-signed at a high price for these situations and again played about 20 minutes.
"Hopefully, the refs will start letting Dwight be a little more physical and stop calling such tic-tac fouls on him," Barnes said. "You know, give him a chance to play. As far as the physicality, we welcome that now."
Barnes said Howard receives "no respect. Absolutely, Dwight gets no respect from the refs, from the league, as far as not being mentioned as the MVP."
Asked if he were worried the way the postseason is being officiated, Howard said, "Yeah, it's a big concern."
What the Magic and the Bobcats can agree on is this: They don't like the way the whistles are blowing.
Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson comically chased an official around trying to show him his headband, which had slid down over an eye after some contact. "I just knew my headband didn't get knocked off by itself," he said. "They were just more physical and wanted to get to the line more than we did."
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he doesn't know what is or isn't a foul anymore. Bobcats coach Larry Brown agrees. They each received a technical foul.
Orlando shot 35 free throws, making 24 while Charlotte stepped to the line just 18 times, hitting 13.
But the real difference is that the Magic are throwing much more at the Bobcats than Superman, a k a Howard. His Super Friends are everywhere, too.
The Magic received balanced scoring as all their starters finished in double figures, led by Vince Carter's 19? points. Howard had 15? points and nine? rebounds. Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson each scored 13? points and Barnes added 11? points, six? rebounds and four? assists.
Orlando played solid defense, especially early, and wound up forcing Charlotte into 21 turnovers for 16 points.
The Magic took a 20-point lead into the fourth period, but the Bobcats have nine lives. They cut the deficit to eight with a little more than three minutes remaining.
Carter, coming off a 4-of-19 Game 1 shooting nightmare, hit a jumper and Lewis made a steal to interrupt the Bobcats' rally.
Brown said the Magic "didn't get to where they are with just one guy" and they weathered the stretches in which Howard had to be a 6-foot-11 cheerleader.
"I just don't see the other great players in this league on the bench all the time with foul trouble, especially on marginal calls. I just don't," Van Gundy said. "But you're sitting there and going, 'Wow, really? That's a foul?' "
Howard said he's trying not to go postal during a game. "It's tough," he said. "I really try to keep my head."
Even if he has little horns on it.