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Not much has changed since last spring.
Except now the Magic's "B Team" is enough to win.
Brandon Bass had 16 points and nine rebounds, Quentin Richardson scored 15 points and the Magic beat the Bobcats 86-73 in a preseason game Thursday night despite playing mostly reserves.
"It shows how good they are," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "Everybody's talking about Miami, Boston in the East. But nobody mentions Orlando. They're one of the best teams in our league."
Apparently their backups are, too.
J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus added 12 points apiece to help Orlando cruise to its 18th straight preseason victory. All that with starters Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis getting the night off.
Too bad there's no championships handed out in the preseason.
"That's a big number. I think I might go out and celebrate," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said sarcastically of his team's preseason winning streak.
D.J. Augustin had 17 points and Derrick Brown scored 11 for the Bobcats, who have lost all four preseason games. And this one had to sting a little extra.
Orlando started its entire reserve unit - Marcin Gortat, Ryan Anderson, Chris Duhon, Pietrus and Redick. Jameer Nelson and Richardson were the only starters who played, and even they didn't have to carry the load.
"It really proved how deep we really are," Anderson said. "We really brought a team together that is capable of really playing a lot of different guys who can play a lot of minutes a lot of different positions."
After a 25-minute delay before tipoff because of a light malfunction in the Orlando's new arena, the home team started fast.
The Magic went on a 27-6 spurt between the first and second quarters behind some sharpshooting by Richardson and Pietrus. The Bobcats pitched in with some sloppy offense with turnovers and missed shots.
Orlando went ahead 44-24 before Charlotte made a late rally, closing the gap to 12 at halftime. The Bobcats trimmed the Magic's lead to 67-62 after three quarters before Orlando ran away again with things late.
Not exactly the kind of return to Orlando that Charlotte was hoping for.
The Bobcats were without regulars Gerald Henderson (left hamstring), Shaun Livingston (sore knee) and Kwame Brown (ankle sprain). That didn't seem to matter much for Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas, both were whistled for technical fouls for arguing with officials.
"We have no identity right now," Jackson said. "We have a lot of young guys trying to figure out how they're going to get in and how they're going to help us. I think that's the main reason why we don't have it right now."
About the only major glitch of the night for the Magic was a malfunction with the main lights in the new Amway Center arena, hosting its second game. The lights dimmed for pregame introductions but didn't come back on immediately.
That didn't seem to faze the Magic.
"It was fun," Anderson said. "Maybe next time we can play with the lights off."
Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan was in attendance with his two sons, Jeff and Marcus, who play at Central Florida. UCF teammate A.J. Rompza also was with them. ... The Bobcats were flying home to play Detroit in Charlotte on Saturday before returning to the Sunshine State to play at Miami on Monday. ... The last time Orlando lost a preseason game was Oct. 6, 2008, against Atlanta, the preseason opener that year.