Francis, Howard help Orlando hold off Euro champs

Updated: October 20, 2005, 12:00 AM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Steve Francis had 20 points and eight assists and Dwight Howard contributed 14 points to help the Orlando Magic hold off Maccabi Tel Aviv 93-79 Wednesday night.

All-Star Grant Hill left the game in the first quarter with an abdominal strain and didn't return. The Magic said Hill, who scored 10 points in nine minutes, was day-to-day.

Bo Outlaw had 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting and eight rebounds for the Magic, who had to give their top players extended minutes to get the victory over a determined Maccabi team.

Maccabi led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and trailed only 51-45 at halftime. The European champions took the lead again 56-55 with 6:17 left in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by former University of South Florida star Derrick Sharp.

Francis helped the Magic regain control and Orlando outscored Maccabi 18-6 the rest of the period to take a 73-62 lead into the fourth quarter. Maccabi cut the deficit to six with under two minutes to play, but a short jumper by Howard and two free throws by Jameer Nelson put away the game.

Anthony Parker scored 20 points and former Clemson star Will Solomon had 19 for Maccabi, which beat Toronto 105-103 on Sunday.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press