On Sunday night, the Magic showed that they can win a game without him.
"We have to prepare ourselves [because] sometimes even [Howard's] having an off night," Turkoglu said. "Tonight, we all just stepped up and did a great job as a group."
The Magic's All-Star center was shut down by Charlotte's defense, scoring just four points (all on free throws), and he only played 7½ minutes in the second half before fouling out for the first time this season with 3:18 remaining.
"Tonight just wasn't my night," said Howard, who had his lowest-scoring game since putting up eight points in 44½ minutes in a 90-89 loss to Detroit in Game 4 of Orlando's second-round NBA playoff series last May.
"We started off pretty bad, and our effort wasn't there. I've got to be the catalyst, and I didn't have it tonight. But I'm glad my teammates stepped up."
But Pietrus capped a 7-point run with a 3-pointer to put Orlando up 54-51 with 5:45 left, and the Magic never trailed again.
"They did a good job, and they exploited mismatches," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "They've got some pretty good players ... and they just find a weakness and exploit it."
Still, Charlotte wouldn't go down without a fight, pulling to 70-69 with 9:31 remaining in the fourth quarter on Morrison's jumper and two free throws.
However, Pietrus' layup 25 seconds later kicked off a 7-1 run that pushed it to 77-70, and the Bobcats would pull no closer than five points the rest of the way.
"We played at a very, very low energy level, but we hung in and did some good things in the second half to get the win," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "This did give our guys some confidence ... with Dwight not into the flow of things and sitting on the bench the whole time."
The last time Howard went without making a field goal in an NBA game came on Jan. 20, 2007, when he went 0-for-6 from the field and scored just one point in 26 minutes in a 101-94 loss at New Jersey. ... Charlotte forward Sean May scored four points in 12½ minutes in his second consecutive start. However, Brown said that May -- who missed the 2007-08 season after having surgery on his right knee, and was held out of five straight games this season for "conditioning issues" -- wasn't at the level he needs to be yet. "He's not ready to play like he's capable of playing," Brown said before Sunday's game. ... The Bobcats wrap up their six-game homestand on Tuesday against Dallas. ... The Magic will play three of their next four at home, beginning Tuesday against Toronto.
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