The Orlando Magic looked tired Tuesday night.
Playing their second game in as many nights, and with another one looming Wednesday, the Magic overcame a listless start and eked out a ragged 96-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at Amway Center.
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It wasn’t pretty, but it still counts as Orlando’s fifth consecutive win.
“It’s not like any other season where we get chances to get breaks and rest here and there,” said Howard, who scored 25 points and collected 17 rebounds, both game highs.
“So, we’ve got to really count on our defense, because there’s going to be nights where offensively we’re not shooting the ball well.”
Wafer, who came off the bench because starting shooting guard Jason Richardson was out with an injury, added 13 points, including a key 3-pointer down the stretch.
Davis’ stat line was unimpressive — he scored just six points and gathered three rebounds in almost 30 minutes — but he repeatedly attempted to draw charges and dived to the parquet floor for loose basketballs.
His play seemed to inspire his teammates, who allowed the Bobcats to make almost 49 percent of their shots in the first half but limited the Bobcats to just under 45 percent shooting in the second half.
“Look, in the first half, we didn’t put much into the game, particularly at the defensive end of the floor,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
“The second half, I thought we played a lot harder defensively. What I said at halftime to ’em was, ‘At some point, if we want to be good, we’re gonna have to become a defensive team.’ ”
It would be a mistake to give the Magic (10-3) too much credit for their second-half performance against the Bobcats (3-12), a team with no stars and no legitimate go-to scorer.
Still, the Magic can win their sixth consecutive game if they beat the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.
“If we’re playing like this in April, then that’s one thing,” Wafer said. “But it’s too early right now. It’s giving us confidence. It’s bringing us closer together. But as far as meaning, it doesn’t really mean much if we don’t finish.”
On Tuesday night, the Magic’s start was the problem.
It didn’t help that Howard picked up two personal fouls in the game’s first 4 minutes, 36 seconds.
Howard went to the bench for the rest of the quarter, and the Magic suffered without him. Orlando made only seven of its 22 first-quarter shot attempts.
But Howard’s foul trouble didn’t persist. He went the entire second quarter without committing a foul, and he had just one personal in the third period.
He also provided the highlight of the night with 25.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
He caught a deep entry pass from Hedo Turkoglu and was fouled by rookie Bismack Biyombo, who fell to the parquet court. Howard tripped over Biyombo, but as Howard went to the floor, he threw a shot almost blindly toward the hoop. The ball went in.