Similar scripts gave the Orlando Magic a sweep of their
back-to-back games against Southeast Division rival Washington,
pulling in the reins of a team that had been one of the hottest in
Francis had 32 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in
Orlando's 103-97 victory Saturday, following the Magic's 108-101
win in Florida 24 hours earlier.
"We just got a real good butt-kicking for two days," said
Washington coach Eddie Jordan, reflecting on a sour end to his 50th
birthday. "Maybe we'll fall under the radar a little bit. It was
Francis did a spin move on Juan Dixon and made an off-balance
turnaround 14-footer with 24 seconds left to put the Magic ahead
for good, his last shot in a 13-for-26 night. In Friday's game,
Francis' big basket came with 44 seconds remaining -- after he had
missed his first 11 shots.
"He is fearless," Orlando coach Johnny Davis said. "When the
game is on the line, he wants the ball in his hands more often than
not. He did it again for us tonight."
After Francis' basket, Brendan Haywood had a chance to tie with
19 seconds remaining when he drew a foul in a fight for a rebound,
but he badly missed both free throws. The Wizards had made their
previous 12 from the line before Haywood's attempts, the first of
which was an air ball.
"The first one slipped. The second one, just wanted to make it
too bad," Haywood said. "Missed it. Wished I'd hit them. It would
have helped us out. We've just got to keep going. It's the second
game in a row that free throws have cost us."
On Friday night, Gilbert Arenas was 11-for-11 from the line
before missing five of his last seven in the final 2:02, a key
factor in Orlando's win.
It wasn't surprising, therefore, to hear Jordan talk about
maintaining focus and the "need to concentrate better" following
Saturday's game, which featured six lead changes in the final 2½
minutes. The Wizards had been riding high -- winning 11 of 13 before
Friday and eight straight at home before Saturday -- before the
Magic gave them a reality check.
"I didn't think we were overconfident," Jordan said. "But if
we were, it was good medicine."
Arenas led the Wizards with 37 points and has scored 30 or more
in six of his last seven games. Antawn Jamison had 18 points, and
Dixon scored 10 of his 14 in the fourth quarter.
Grant Hill added 27 points for the Magic, including a free throw
that tied the game with 56 seconds remaining. Dwight Howard had 13
points and 10 rebounds. Francis had six of Orlando's 16 turnovers,
but he did more than enough to tighten the race between the two
teams chasing Miami in the Southeast.
"I think it's more a bigger game for our team," Francis said,
"because this is one of the toughest teams in the East this year,
and we're right there trying to chase them and be where they
Both teams wore retro uniforms. The Wizards wore the orange
getup from their 1970-71 season, when they were the Baltimore
Bullets. The Magic went back just a decade to 1994-95. ... Arenas
regained his steady hand at the free throw line, making all 13
attempts. ... Francis and Hill are both local heroes. Hill was a
high school star, while Francis went to both high school and
college in the area. Francis bought some 200 tickets for family and
friends for the game. "I've got to go, my grandmother's waiting,"
he said at the end of his postgame interview. ... Magic center
Kelvin Cato (sinus infection) did not make the trip. ... The game
was a sellout, the Wizards' fourth of the season.