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Orlando comes back from 22-point deficit

12/9/2003

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Orlando Magic turned up their game --
and the volume.

"We had that music crunked, man," Tracy McGrady said after the
Magic beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 on Monday night to snap a
19-game losing streak.

As the music blared, coach Johnny Davis was accepting a bottle
of champagne in honor of his first victory since taking over for
the fired Doc Rivers on Nov. 18.

"For the first time in a long time, we have a very happy locker
room," Davis said. "And, for the first time in a long time, I can
actually smile."

The Magic, 1-9 under Davis, avoided becoming only the sixth team
in NBA history to lose 20 straight games.

The losing streak was the NBA's longest since 1997-98, when the
Denver Nuggets lost 23 straight to tie the 1995-96 Vancouver
Grizzlies for most consecutive losses in one season.

The overall record is 24 by the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end
of 1981-82 and the start of the following season.

The Magic had to climb out of a 22-point hole in the first
quarter to win for the first time since Oct. 29, an overtime
victory in the opener at New York. It was the third-biggest
comeback in team history, and the largest deficit the Magic have
overcome at home.

"We just kept fighting, even though we knew that it was an
uphill battle," Davis said. "That's really what we've done
throughout this streak. We've been fighting and we're bringing it,
but we didn't close out the games.

"Tonight, we did."

McGrady had 16 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high nine
assists. Drew Gooden scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half.

After the Magic finally broke ahead late in the third quarter,
they were for once on the good side of a late-game surge. Orlando
closed the game on a 10-2 run, with Gordan Giricek hitting a
3-pointer and two free throws.

Giricek had 19 points, as did Juwan Howard. Howard's
up-and-under layup broke a 95-all tie, and started the Magic to
their first regular-season home win since April 12.

"It's good to feel how a victory feels like," said Giricek,
who made all six of his shots, including three 3-pointers, and all
four free throws.

Orlando topped 100 points for only the fourth time this season.

The Suns lost for the fifth time in six games, with only a
franchise-record 29-point comeback at Boston on Friday preventing a
complete collapse

"(Orlando) started coming back, and we started getting
tentative and not wanting to take shots," said embattled Phoenix
coach Frank Johnson. "Not quick shots, but shots where we moved
the ball around, didn't take it and got a shot-clock violation."

Johnson, under fire for his team's poor start, was ejected with
12.4 seconds remaining.

"The free-throw discrepancy was unreal," said Johnson, noting
the 32-11 edge in favor of Orlando. "I'll leave it at that.

Shawn Marion scored a season-high 29 points, 20 in the first
half. He also tied his season best with 17 rebounds for his fifth
double-double.

Penny Hardaway had season highs of 22 points and eight assists.
He scored 14 points in the first quarter when the Suns broke out to
a 38-16 lead.

The Suns made 18 of their first 22 shots, but were 24-for-74 (32
percent) afterward.

"Whenever you get a lead like that, you are supposed to close
them out -- especially on the road," Marion said.

The Magic allowed themselves a celebration, but practice
beckoned on Tuesday. That's because Orlando still must find another
eight wins to avoid the shame of being the NBA's worst team ever.
The Philadelphia 76ers went 9-73 in 1972-73.

"Hopefully, we can build on this, get some confidence and gets
some wins now," McGrady said. "Hopefully, our season can start
now."

Game notes
Phoenix was playing without Amare Stoudemire, its best
rebounder and shot-blocker. The second-year forward is expected to
miss four weeks after spraining his left ankle Friday in Boston. He
is 15.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.72 blocks. ... After placing
Stoudemire on the injured list, the Suns activated center Cezary
Trybanski. He didn't play ... Including the preseason and last
season's playoffs, Orlando had lost 29 of its last 31 games --
including 16 straight at home. ... Davis was hit with a technical
for arguing midway through the second quarter. It was his first
technical since taking over the team.