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Francis has 26; rookie Nelson shoots 7-of-9 FGs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Orlando Magic suddenly have a
backcourt that is awfully tough to stop.

Steve Francis scored 26 points and rookie Jameer Nelson added a
career-high 22 as the Orlando Magic took a big early lead, made 60
percent of their shots and blew out the New Jersey Nets 105-81
Saturday night.

The Magic won their third straight and snapped a five-game road
losing streak.

"I thought we had a good game together," Francis said. "I
guess that's the vision the coaches were seeing when they decided
to insert Jameer into the starting lineup."

Kelvin Cato added 16 points for the Magic, who had four players
in double figures. Nelson, further entrenched in the Orlando
starting lineup after Doug Christie was placed on the injured list,
shot 7-of-9 and had three assists.

"They moved the ball, they hit shots, they found open people
and I thought they did a good job defensively as well," Orlando
coach Johnny Davis said of his backcourt that has started the past
five games.

Rookie Dwight Howard had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the
Magic, who shot 60 percent from the field for the game (39-of-65).

Vince Carter led New Jersey with 20 points, the 18th straight
game he's reached that mark.

Orlando shot 63.9 percent in the first half in building a big
lead, compared to only 31.1 percent for New Jersey.

"They wanted it more than we wanted it. We had no energy, no
effort, no nothing," Carter said. "They beat us from the jump,
plain and simple."

Francis shot 7-for-9 in the first quarter and scored 15 points,
the same amount the Nets mustered against Orlando's zone defense.
After Grant Hill's opening jumper went awry, Orlando made nine of
10 shots to open an 18-6 advantage. New Jersey missed 11 of its
first 13 shots and was never in the game.

The Magic's backcourt of Francis and Nelson outscored New Jersey
counterparts Jason Kidd and Jacque Vaughn 30-2 in the first half --
helping Orlando take a 59-37 lead into the break and drawing hearty
boos from the home crowd.

It only got worse for the Nets early in the third quarter as the
Magic opened with a 10-2 run paced by six points from Francis. Cato
made three straight shots to give Orlando its biggest lead, 78-44
with 6:15 left in the third quarter.

Kidd never got going, and left with 29.6 seconds remaining in
the third quarter having committed five fouls. He had only five
points on 2-of-10 shooting and four assists.

Kidd was joined on the bench for the fourth quarter by the rest
of New Jersey's starters.

"We live and die by the jump shot. We couldn't make the
perimeter shot against their zone and we fell right into their
hands," Kidd said of the Nets, who shot 36.1 percent from the
field.

For the second straight night, the Magic built a big lead in the
first quarter and cruised. On Friday, Orlando took a 38-25
advantage into the second quarter and beat the New York Knicks
111-89.

"Second game straight we did that," Nelson said. "We got out
to a large lead and held them down. We put our foot right on their
throat."

Despite flying to New Jersey for the second of back-to-back
contests, the Magic appeared to be the fresher team against the
Nets, who hadn't played since losing at home by 16 points to Miami
on Thursday.

"We've had times where we've come out aggressively and let
up," Francis said. "I thought tonight we did a good job playing
the second game of a back to back."

Game notes
The Magic placed Christie on the injured because of bone
spurs in his left ankle. General manager John Weisbrod said
"surgery seems likely." Christie missed practice on Thursday and
the Magic's home victory over New York on Friday. ... Nelson, who
played at Saint Joseph's in not-too-distant Philadelphia, left 20
tickets for friends and family. His previous game at the
Meadowlands was his college finale -- a 64-62 loss to Oklahoma State
in the 2004 NCAA tournament final eight. ... The Nets' worst loss
this season was a 112-80 drubbing at Phoenix on Nov. 6. ... Carter
has scored at least 20 points in 24 of 25 games.