WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (Ticker) --
Orlando Magic stars Steve Francis
came home and closed out the back end of a
Francis scored 32 points and Hill added 27 as the Magic edged
the Washington Wizards, 103-97, completing a sweep of the
weekend series and closing the gap in the Southeast Division.
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Francis, a native of Takoma Park, Maryland, had nine points in
the fourth quarter, including a 14-foot turnaround jumper off a
spinning dribble that snapped a 97-97 tie with 24 seconds to
"I was just looking for an opportunity to get a shot," Francis
said. "What shot it was going to be, I didn't know, but I didn't
want to lose the opportunity to get a shot in that situation."
Coming off Friday's poor performance in which he made just
1-of-12 shots and scored 10 points, Francis was 13-of-26 from
the floor and added nine points and seven rebounds.
"I think it's more a bigger game for our team because this is
one of the toughest teams in the East this year and we're right
there trying to chase them and be where they are," Francis said.
"We did a good job of maintaining our composure in certain
situations and we came out with a victory against a tough team."
"He is good down the stretch," Magic coach Johnny Davis said.
"He is fearless. When the game is on the line, he wants the
ball in his hands more often than not. He did it for us again
Hill, a native of nearby Reston, Virginia, made 10-of-16 shots,
including a couple of high-flying hoops that recalled his play
before his ankle injury.
"Yeah, every time I play it means a lot," Hill said. "It's
always fun to come here and play in front of the family and
friends and play against the team I used to follow before when I
was a little kid."
Playing in front of father, former NFL running back Calvin Hill,
Grant Hill scored nine points in the final six minutes,
preventing the Wizards from staging another of their late
"I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to draw fouls and
get to the line and make some plays," Hill said. "Coach talked
to us yesterday about being aggressive and attacking and that's
what we wanted to do tonight. We were fortunate to do it
tonight and last night, just attack, get to the line, play our
game and dictate the tempo - and ultimately down the stretch to
close out games."
There were six lead changes in the last 2 1/2 minutes.
Washington's last lead was at 97-96 with 1:06 to go on a pair of
free throws by Juan Dixon
, who scored 14 points.
Hill tied it with a foul shot 10 seconds later. After
missed a runner, Francis gave the Magic the lead for
"We had opportunities but they really took it to us," Wizards
coach Eddie Jordan said. "It was a very well-contested game,
but they made the big plays when they had to and we didn't; no
Washington had a chance to tie when center Brendan Haywood
fouled with 18 seconds to play. His first free throw was an
airball and the second clanged off the back rim, completed the
Wizards' 31-of-45 showing at the line.
"The first one slipped," Haywood said. "And on the second one, I
wanted to hit it too bad and I missed because of it. I wish I
hit them. This is the second game in a row that free throws
made four free throws around a turnover to seal
the win for the Magic (24-19), who beat the Wizards (26-17) at
home on Friday and moved within two games of second place in the
"Everybody stepped up," Hill said. "Doug hit some big free
throws. Steve hit a clutch shot at the free-throw line. We
just did a good job tonight of closing out the game."
Washington's Gilbert Arenas
played all 48 minutes and scored 37
points, his fifth straight 30-point game.
"Gilbert has been playing at the highest level that any guard in
the league is playing," Jordan said. "He is our leader."
Arenas said nights like this were bound to come. Davis was glad
his team capitalized.
"There have been games when everything went our way down the
stretch," he said. "In the last two games that didn't happen.
Over the course of an 82-game schedule that's going to happen."
"We are very fortunate to come out of this with two wins," Davis
said. "They just keep at you, they are relentless. We had
some timely rebounds and that was the story. Both games could
have gone either way."