<
>

Rookie Howard has consecutive 20-board games

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The pressure has eased somewhat on Orlando
Magic coach Johnny Davis, although there were a few tense moments
Thursday night as his team frittered away a 20-point lead.

Steve Francis scored 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter,
including a game-deciding 17-footer with 17 seconds to play, to
help the Magic defeat the Atlanta Hawks 101-96.

"A win against any team in this league is a good thing so yes,
I'm feeling better," said Davis, who has taken criticism from
general manager John Weisbrod for his team's recent slump. "We're
still basically a new team and still going through growing pains,
but you can't stop. You've got to keep working at it and we are."

Francis, who also had nine assists and seven rebounds, hit his
key shot after Atlanta cut its deficit to 97-94 with 38 seconds
left on a 3-pointer by Antoine Walker.

It was only the second win in the last six games for Orlando,
which has sputtered to a 13-17 record after a surprising 13-6 start
to the season.

The Magic got 24 points from reserve Hedo Turkoglu and 15 points
and 20 rebounds from rookie Dwight Howard, who became the first
rookie since Tim Duncan in 1997-98 to record two 20-rebound games
in a season.

"That's just a scratch of what he could do for us night in and
night out," Francis said. "He was a monster down there."

Atlanta was forced to play without injured starters Tyronn Lue,
Al Harrington and Josh Smith, but the Hawks got 25 points from
backup point guard Tony Delk and 25 from Walker. Atlanta also got
19 points and 10 rebounds from rookie Josh Childress.

"Our guys are playing hard," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said.
"With only 10 wins, we could easily throw in the towel, but we're
not doing that. We played well enough to win this game, we just
didn't get any breaks."

Turkoglu, the only Magic reserve to score, had 13 of 15 points
in a 15-3 run that gave Orlando a 56-38 lead with 2:04 left in the
first half. Orlando pushed the advantage to 74-54 on two free
throws by Howard with 5:51 left in the third quarter, then tried to
coast.

They barely made it as Delk put on a show in the fourth quarter
with 12 points.

"It's hard when you're up in a game for a long time like
that," Francis said. "It's hard to consistently stay focused for
that period of time. I'm definitely happy with the result, but we
improved in some areas."

Game notes
The Magic placed C Andrew DeClercq on the injured list with
a sore knee and activated F Brandon Hunter. ... Atlanta played
without C Predrag Drobnjak (sprained ankle) and PG Tyronn Lue
(strained Achilles). ... The Magic led 31-15 at the end of the
first period, their largest first-quarter lead this season. ...
Howard, who is from Atlanta, is averaging 18.3 points and 13.3
rebounds against the Hawks. ... Childress, who had his first
double-double in Atlanta's last game, followed it up with 19 points
and 10 rebounds.