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Wizards held to 35 points in first half of loss

12/6/2002

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - With three road games in four nights
upcoming, the Orlando Magic weren't going to dwell the shaky facets
of their victory.

Despite blowing most of a 23-point lead, the Magic hung on to
beat the Washington Wizards 88-78 Friday night as Tracy McGrady had
27 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and Mike Miller added 22
points.

Shawn Kemp scored a season-high 15, including 11 in the first
quarter. Grant Hill was held to five points, but had 10 rebounds
for his third straight double-figure rebounding game.

"It wasn't the way we wanted to win, but we won it," said
Miller, whose sailing reverse layup with 2:21 remaining gave the
Magic some much-needed breathing room. "And now we've got to go to
New Jersey (on Saturday night) and get that one."

The Magic (12-8), who also visit Boston and Chicago, can take
over third place in the Atlantic Division with a win over the Nets.

"It's good to go out on the road with a win," Orlando coach
Doc Rivers said. "It just would've felt horrible if we had dropped
this game."

With smothering defense, Orlando opened a 59-36 lead with 8:27
remaining in the third period. Washington was held to 11 points in
the second quarter and 35 in the first half. Both figures were
season-bests for the Magic, one of the lowest-ranked defensive
teams in the NBA.

"We took bad shots early," Washington coach Doug Collins said.
"I begged my players at halftime to move the ball to get some
court balance.

The Wizards rallied, and Jerry Stackhouse's three-point play cut
the deficit to 80-75 with 2:49 remaining.

Stackhouse had 23 points with eight assists. Michael Jordan
scored 16, making seven of 21 shots, while Larry Hughes had 15
points on 6-for-18 shooting and a season-high 11 rebounds.

Washington shot 35.4 percent with 13 turnovers.

Five points was as close as the Wizards would get, though.

Stackhouse missed his next two shots to finish 7-for-17 from the
field, while Miller made his soaring basket and McGrady followed
with a fadeaway jumper for a nine-point lead.

"When they made their push, we were taking a lot of jump
shots," said Miller, who is averaging 23 points over the last six
games. "I had an opportunity to take a jump shot coming off of Pat
(Garrity's) screen, but I was trying to get to the hoop and, if not
finish, get fouled and get to the free throw line, see if we could
get two points.

"It was a bucket that we needed to have."

The Wizards' offensive woes began early as they missed 15 of
their first 21 shots. Still, Washington trailed only by a basket
after Hughes' 3-pointer to open the second quarter.

"The start was too fast; I wish it had been a slow start,
tempo-wise," Collins said. "My biggest fear was that the Magic
would get us running and we would get into quick shots, which
played right into their hands."

The Wizards then had four missed shots and four turnovers in a
span of 3:53, allowing Orlando to score 10 unanswered points for a
39-27 advantage.

For the quarter, the Wizards shot 5-for-17 with six turnovers.

"The first quarter and a half, I think we tried to match their
intensity, their tempo, and we lost our poise," said Jordan, who
missed 10 of 13 shots in the first half. "I think from that point
on, we played a pretty solid game."

Orlando opened the second half on a 10-1 run to grab its biggest
lead. In that stretch, Miller had a 3-pointer, a three-point play
and a fast-break dunk.

By then, Washington was shooting 27 percent (14-for-52).

Game notes
Garrity has hit a 3-pointer in 47 straight games, the top
active streak in the league. ... Entering the game, Washington's
opponents had made an NBA-best 80 percent of their foul shots. The
Magic sank nine of 11 free throws. ... Orlando is 10-1 when holding
its opponents below 100 points.