Francis Huge in Victory Over Hornets
Orlando 88, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 83
OKLAHOMA CITY, Nov. 9 (Ticker) -- For the second time in as many nights, Steve Francis played big in the final minutes.
Francis had 24 points and eight rebounds, and keyed a late surge as the Orlando Magic squeezed out an 88-83 victory over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
"Steve (Francis) is our go-to guy right now," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "If he's going to carry us, we're going to ride him."
"We're hungry right now to win," said Francis, who made 7-of-19 shots and 8-of-9 free throws. "We just gotta put in the work right now to get it done."
The guard play of Francis, Nelson and Deshawn Stevenson was huge in the game's final seconds, as the trio collected three straight offensive rebounds. With nine seconds to go, Stevenson grabbed a loose ball and was fouled, sinking two free throws for an 86-81 advantage.
"Outside of the early turnovers, I thought we played really well, especially in our rebounding and in getting to the line," Hill said.
Dwight Howard had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Stevenson scored 13 points for the Magic. Speedy Claxton scored 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting off the bench for the Hornets. P.J. Brown added nine points and 10 rebounds. The Hornets missed all eight of their 3-pointers.
"We did miss a lot of easy shots, but that's not what beat us," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "It was a lack of energy."
With 7:50 to play in the third period and the game tied at 48-48, Orlando went on a 10-0 run over the next three minutes. Francis scored 10 points in the quarter, which ended with the Magic holding a 66-57 lead.