Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/26

Game 1: Friday, November 26th
Game 2: Monday, January 31st
Game 3: Thursday, February 10th
Game 4: Monday, March 28th

Hawks 102

(11-59, 3-33 away)

Magic 109

(33-37, 22-12 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:00 PM ET, March 28, 2005

    Amway Arena, Orlando, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    ATL 15 33 19 35102
    ORL 32 30 23 24109

    Top Performers

    Atl: T. Gugliotta 13 Pts, 7 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Orl: S. Francis 30 Pts, 6 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk

    Magic coast behind Francis' 30 points

    ORLANDO (AP) -- A big game from Steve Francis was just what the slumping Orlando Magic needed. Playing the lowly Atlanta Hawks helped, too.

    In his second game back from a three-game suspension, Francis scored 30 points with 10 assists and six rebounds to lead Orlando to a 109-102 victory over the Hawks on Monday night, just the Magic's second win in 12 games.

    The Magic snapped a three-game skid as they tried to keep pace with Philadelphia and Indiana, who hold the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

    "We've really been struggling, but it's good to get a victory," Francis said. "One thing that (interim) coach (Chris Jent) did was he told us that every single game is pretty much like a playoff series. You've got to prepare for them like they're your last game. Hopefully this can start something good for us."

    Grant Hill had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Dwight Howard had 17 points and 11 boards for Orlando.

    With the league's worst record, the Hawks (11-59) have lost 11 straight games and 22 of their last 23.

    "You can't play a team like we did and not expect to struggle," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "Our defensive output was just horrendous in terms of defending the basketball. We've got this mentality now where we feel we can outscore teams, and it's not going to happen. It's just not."

    Francis had 19 points by halftime to give the Magic a comfortable lead.

    "Steve played great," said Jent, who got his first home victory as an NBA head coach. "He was really aggressive, took smart shots and found his teammates. When he gets up in the 11, 12, 15 free throw range, you know he's playing well."

    Atlanta shot 27 percent from the floor in the first quarter, allowing Orlando take a 32-15 lead. The Hawks made just one of their first 10 shots.

    "We wanted to come in here and bury them from the beginning and I think it started with our defense," Howard said. "We relaxed a little bit during the game, but it's still good to win. We're trying to make this playoff push and every game, it doesn't matter who we're playing, we want to come out on top."

    The Magic led by as many as 22 in the first half, but Atlanta went on a 6-1 run in the final minute, capped by a running one-hander by Josh Smith with 41 seconds remaining to trim the deficit to 62-48 at the half.

    Atlanta went on an 8-2 run to cut the Orlando lead to 66-56 with 9:11 remaining in the third period, but the Magic went on a 7-0 run of their own to push the lead back to 17 midway through the third period.

    "We can't get down 15 to 20 points in the first half, that's tough in this league, espcially when your playing against guys like Steve Francis and Grant Hill," said Hawks center Obinna Ezekie, who scored 10 points.

    Smith and Josh Childress had 14 points each to lead six Atlanta players in double figures.

    Game notes

    Magic rookie Jameer Nelson (8.1 ppg) came off the bench and played just 3 minutes before suffering an strain in his left rib cage. He did not return and his status is day-to-day. Nelson will have an MRI done Tuesday and will not practice. "Jameer said he felt OK, but it would be an understatement to say it would hurt if we lost him," Jent said. .... Pat Garrity came off the Magic bench to score 12 points, the first time he's scored in double figures since Feb. 13 vs. New Orleans. ... Tom Gugliotta scored 13 points for Atlanta, his best effort since being traded from Boston to the Hawks. Gugliotta is averaging 1.3 points per game. ...The Hawks, who beat the Magic on Jan. 31, have not defeated any NBA team twice.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 102 109
    FGM-FGA 36-88 (.409) 38-82 (.463)
    3PM-3PA 3-16 (.188) 2-7 (.286)
    FTM-FTA 27-32 (.844) 31-43 (.721)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-42 16-49
    Assists 20 24
    Turnovers 15 19
    Steals 11 12
    Blocks 4 10
    Fast Break Points 12 16
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 25 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 0 23

    Top Performers

    Tom Gugliotta Gugliotta
    Points: 13
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1
    Steve Francis Francis
    Points: 30
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 2