CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 20 (Ticker) --
After Jamal Mashburn
became sick to his stomach, Baron Davis
made sure the rest of
his Charlotte Hornets teammates didn't have the same feeling.
Davis sparked a comeback with 10 of his 28 points in the fourth
quarter and stripped Tracy McGrady in the final seconds as the
Hornets rallied for an 80-79 victory over the Orlando Magic in
the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Mashburn, who averaged a team-leading 21.5 points per game
during the regular season, started despite a stomach virus but
clearly was too sick too play. He missed all six of his shots
and vomited behind the bench before leaving the game and being
taken to a hospital for observation.
NBA TV highlights from Magic-Hornets:
Baron's Crunch Time steal:
Baron Davis gets some love from his teammates after the Hornets survived at the Hive against the Magic.
Without Mashburn, the Hornets struggled on offense, taking bad
shots and missing most of them. They trailed 74-63 with less
than eight minutes remaining before Davis led a late surge.
The All-Star point guard had a driving layup and two free throws
in a 15-1 run. P.J. Brown's two free throws capped the surge
and gave the Hornets a 78-75 lead with 3:07 to play.
"When we needed baskets, (Davis) penetrated to the hoop and made
free throws," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "That's what big
McGrady, hobbled by a sore back that had him wincing and limping
all game, made a foul shot before Davis sank a fadeaway from
the foul line for an 80-76 lead with 2:35 left.
A layup by Troy Hudson -- Orlando's first basket in over six
minutes -- halved the deficit with 1:42 remaining.
McGrady missed a 3-pointer, then drew a foul with 28 seconds to
go. But he split the free throws, leaving Charlotte with a
Davis was double-teamed and had his pass deflected and stolen
with 7.6 seconds left. The Magic went to McGrady and the
superstar tried to drive right on George Lynch. But Davis flashed in front of him, knocked away the ball and dribbled up
the left sideline as time expired.
"Coach told me to double-team," Davis said. "I had Darrell
Armstrong, so I really didn't want to do it. I saw him go
around George. I took off and went for the ball." "Baron came
out of nowhere and took the ball away," McGrady said. "It was a
great defensive play. The best guy on their team made the play
of the game. He really snuck in there and got the ball away."
Game Two of the best-of-five series is Tuesday night in
McGrady, who scored 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting, spent his
time on the bench lying on his stomach with a heating pad on his
back. The All-Star swingman sat for most of the third quarter
and returned early in the fourth period but clearly was not
"My back tightened up in the third quarter on a turnaround shot
with David Wesley guarding me," McGrady said. "I felt the pain
and really didn't think I would play anymore."
"On the last play, Tracy had me beat, but he didn't have enough
with his bad back bothering him," Lynch said.
Davis made just 9-of-24 shots but added seven assists and seven
rebounds. He played all 48 minutes, picking up the slack for
the missing Mashburn.
"We played with Mash out half the season, so we know how to win
without him," Davis said. "I have the experience to be the
go-to guy when he is out, and that really helped me tonight."
"I knew something was wrong with Mash," Silas said. "He was not
Brown collected 14 points and 15 rebounds for the fourth-seeded
Hornets, who overcame 35 percent (29-of-83) shooting with their
huge size advantage. Charlotte held a 51-32 rebounding edge,
including 20-3 on the offensive end.
"It was very physical, especially Charlotte," Magic coach Doc
Rivers said. "We have to be more physical."
Until the final period, the Hornets did not get a lift from the
crowd, which was just 9,505. But they got a big boost from
Lynch, who had four points and five rebounds in 16 minutes and
did a solid job on McGrady.
"My strategy was just to be physical and make him work for every
shot," Lynch said.
"George Lynch made the difference tonight," Silas added. "Tracy
was going off, but we put George on him and he did an excellent
Silas put Lynch on McGrady after McGrady made two free throws
and two jumpers to give Orlando a 74-63 lead with 7:55 to go. A
3-pointer by Wesley and Lynch's jumper gave Charlotte a 76-75
edge with 4:16 remaining before Brown's free throws.
With Mashburn struggling, Charlotte missed 15 of its first 17
shots. Armstrong made his first five and Orlando opened a 28-17
lead before Davis closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer.
The Hornets closed to 44-39 at halftime and appeared ready to
make a move when McGrady left in the third quarter. But the
Magic put together a 14-3 run, opening their largest lead at
62-49 on two free throws by Troy Hudson.
"We missed layups and had 16 offensive boards in the first half
and didn't convert them," Silas said.
Armstrong scored 16 points and Monty Williams added 14 for the
Magic, who shot 45 percent (30-of-67) but made just 1-of-6
3-pointers, usually a big part of their offense.