By Caroline Sikes
March 25, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. MAGIC
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Moe Harkless
The matchup between Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Maurice Harkless will see two talented rookies who have been playing well recently going toe-to-toe. For the Bobcats, Kidd-Gilchrist has scored in double-figures in three of the last four games and is coming off his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 boards against the Heat. On the season, MKG does it all for Charlotte, contributing 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.00 block… He will be facing off against someone Coach Mike Dunlap knows well in Maurice Harkless. Harkless, the rookie out of St. John’s, played for Dunlap last season while Dunlap was serving as the interim head coach for the Red Storm. This season for the Magic, the 15th overall pick in the 2012 Draft has averaged 7.2 points, 4.3 boards and 1.2 steals but has seen his playing time increase lately as he continues to improve. Harkless has finished in double-figure scoring in 16 of Orlando’s last 19 games, including a season-high 25-point performance on March 22 against the Thunder… Whichever rookie comes out on top of this matchup may be an indication of who will take the game.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (16-54)
The Bobcats return home, where they’ve won three of their last four games at Time Warner Cable Arena®, with the only loss coming from the 92-91 upset at the hands of the Pistons on March 23… To keep the home court advantage alive, the Cats will need their backcourt to lead the way, as they have done for most of the season. Kemba Walker continues to lead the Cats in scoring (17.3 points), assists (5.5) and steals (2.0) during his sophomore campaign… Gerald Henderson could be key to a Charlotte victory, as he has elevated his game recently. During March, Henderson averages 18.0 points on 44.8 percent shooting, while adding 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists… Another player who has been huge for the Cats lately is Jannero Pargo. Pargo was signed to a second 10-day contract to replace the injured Ramon Sessions and has yet to disappoint. In the six games he’s played for the Bobcats, he averages 10.2 points (shooting .440 from the field and .433 from long range), 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 rebound in 17.2 minutes… The Cats frontcourt took a hit last week when Brendan Haywood was sidelined for the rest of the season due to a stress reaction in his foot. Then Josh McRoberts suffered a shoulder strain against the Pistons and missed Charlotte’s last game versus the Heat. Before the injury, McRoberts had started the last seven games, averaging 9.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals during that stretch… After losing at home early in the season to the Magic, the Bobcats have won the last two in Orlando, so it will be interesting to see if the Cats can finish the series 3-1.
SCOUTING THE MAGIC (18-53)
After starting the season 12-13, the Magic have been struggling to find a way to win, going 6-40 since December 21… Things haven’t been looking up for Orlando down the stretch, after finding out leading-scorer, Arron Afflalo, would miss the rest of the season due to a strained right hamstring. The Magic was already missing Glen Davis (foot) who was their second leading scorer, but has been sidelined since late January. To make matters worse, Nikola Vucevic didn’t play in the Magic’s last three games after suffering a concussion and working to meet the league’s protocol for head injuries. The Magic have been forced to play small lineups in the absence of 7-0 Vucevic, who on the season averages 12.4 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.0 block… Jameer Nelson has been in charge of leading this injury-laden team as the season winds down. Nelson has been impressive despite the obstacles, averaging 14.9 points, 7.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.31 steals… Tobias Harris, who was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks in February, has made the most of his new home in Orlando, posting 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.25 blocks through 16 games.
Make sure you come out to support your Cats as they take on their division rivals, the Orlando Magic, at 7 p.m. on March 27 at Time Warner Cable Arena® for Wednesday Night Basketball. All Wednesday Night Basketball games feature $4 12 oz. beers, bottomless popcorn and Team Store item of the game, as well as awesome deals at the Epicentre. If you can’t make it out, catch the game on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. Join other Cats fans by following the live in-game chat at bobcats.com or by downloading the Bobcats app on your smartphone.