ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 27 (Ticker) -- Steve Francis
certainly made up
for lost time.
The foul-plagued Francis scored 15 of his 26 points in a
spectacular fourth quarter as the Orlando Magic fought off the
Philadelphia 76ers, 105-99, for their fourth win in five games.
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Francis picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and
was limited to 22 minutes through the first three quarters. He
returned at the start of the final period and won his duel with
fellow All-Star Allen Iverson
Francis had a rare four-point play early in the period and did
it all in the final 2 1/2 minutes as he was responsible for
Orlando's last 11 points.
After sinking a free throw, Francis found Grant Hill
for a pair
of corner jumpers that gave the Magic a 99-97 lead with 1:25 to
"Whoever gets open, that's who I'm going to give the ball to,"
On the next possession, Francis sank an 18-footer over Iverson
with 48 seconds left. Iverson, who had 27 points and 10
assists, responded with a driving layup.
But at the other end, Francis ran Iverson off a screen and
buried another jumper for a 103-99 bulge with 23 seconds
remaining. Iverson missed a 3-pointer and Francis sealed the
win with two free throws.
"I wanted to put Steve in a position to come off screens and be
explosive as a scorer for us in that situation," Magic coach
Johnny Davis said.
"This was game we could have won," Iverson said. "We just
didn't do the things we needed to do to get it done. We didn't
get stops when we needed to and I had a lot to do with that on
Francis made 7-of-15 shots and 10-of-11 free throws, adding five
assists and five rebounds. He and rookie teammate Jameer Nelson
helped hold Iverson to only 7-of-25 shooting.
"Jameer did a great job," Francis said. "When I had foul
trouble, he came in and fought with Allen. That was a good test
and he was able to defend him pretty well."
Iverson had trouble against Orlando's big men, who had seven
"Those guys are big in there and they're a big team," he said.
"We are the smallest team in the NBA, so every team we see is
big to us."
Hill scored 29 points and rookie Dwight Howard
added 12 and 10
rebounds for the Magic, who avenged a 96-87 loss at Philadelphia
on November 14. Orlando (8-4) moved into first place in the
Southeast Division, percentage points ahead of Miami.
"It doesn't mean a lot because it's early in the year," Hill
said. "But just to have a winning record and to be playing good
basketball, it's exciting coming off last year."
had 17 points and season high 11 boards and
high-flying rookie Andre Iguodala
scored a season-high 15 points
for the Sixers, who have lost four straight road games.
Iverson scored 17 points in the first half as Philadelphia
grabbed a 56-49 lead. Three dunks by Iguodala pushed the margin
to 61-51 before Orlando rallied behind Hill to pull into a
79-79 tie entering the final period.
Iverson and Kyle Korver
had 3-pointers to give the Sixers a
97-94 lead with 2:28 left before Francis took over.