Francis had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his
first game back from a two-game suspension to lead the Orlando
Magic over the Washington Wizards 106-98 on Wednesday night.
The guard was suspended by the team for refusing to re-enter a
blowout game late in the fourth quarter. He came off the bench
against the Wizards for the third time in his six-year NBA career.
"That's something that's way out of my control," Francis said
of his reserve role. "So I just have to do what I can do when I
He entered with 4:01 left in the first quarter to a mixed
reaction from the crowd. Two minutes later, his no-look,
behind-the-back pass on a fast break for a Hedo Turkoglu dunk put
the crowd back on his side.
"After a week of not playing, just shooting by myself, it was
good to get out on the court with my teammates and play well,"
Francis was scoring a team-high 18 points a game at the end of
2005, but hit a wall in January. In his last six games, he was
averaging 11.5 points on 37.5 percent shooting, with 25 assists and
In the meantime, point guard Jameer Nelson has emerged as a
budding star. He has led Orlando in scoring four of the last five
games, including 22 points, five assists and five rebounds on
"Give me 24 hours at least to savor this one," Magic coach
Brian Hill said. "We just had a bad road trip. I want to relax a
little bit and have a cocktail and then we'll talk about the
starting lineup some other day."
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the short-handed
Magic and a four-game winning streak for Washington.
"We said it in pre-game that even though they've been down and
we've been doing pretty good, the way they are now is how we were
at one point," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "Just one win
gets it going and we were very aware that they could get it
Trailing 51-44 at halftime, the Magic used a 10-2 run to take
the lead and pull away in the third quarter. They shot 63 percent
from the field in the period, while Washington hit just 27 percent
from the floor.
"Everything just swung," Arenas said. "We had all the
momentum in the first half, then it shifted and they had all the
momentum in the second half."
Orlando grabbed an early lead, but watched it slip away as
Jamison had 11 points in the first quarter.
Caron Butler scored 18 and Antonio Daniels had 17 points and six
assists off the bench for Washington.
Reserve center Kelvin Cato scored 10 points in the second
quarter to keep Orlando competitive despite nine first-half
turnovers, but left the game with 23.3 seconds left in the half
with a sprained right ankle and did not return.
The Magic played without Grant Hill, who'll be out at least
another week because of continued abdominal pain. Hill has now
missed six of the last eight games after returning from sports
hernia surgery last month.
At one point in the third quarter, all five Magic starters
and their sixth man had at least three fouls. No one ended up
fouling out. ... Washington C Etan Thomas was not with the team
because of a death in the family. He's scheduled to return for
Washington's game Friday against the New Orleans Hornets. ...
Orlando outrebounded the Wizards 41-34.