Francisí Return Sparks Magic Past Wizards
Orlando 106, Washington 98
ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 18 (Ticker) -- The return of Orlando Magic point guard Steve Francis was just enough to stop the surging Washington Wizards.
Jameer Nelson scored 22 points and Francis collected 12, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Magic snapped their four-game skid with a 106-98 triumph over the Wizards, who had their four-game winning streak stopped.
"He looked like the Steve Francis that we're used to watching," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "He was aggressive, he was attacking and did a good job defensively. It was a great contribution."
Washington held a 51-44 lead at intermission before Orlando opened the second half with a 10-2 surge. Nelson scored 19 second-half points, including 13 in the third period, giving the Magic a 73-69 lead entering the fourth period.
"We didn't make a lot of shots in the first half," said Nelson, who was 9-of-15 from the floor. "In the second half, we made our shots and played much better defense. I have a lot of confidence in my shot right now. I just stepped behind picks and knocked down shots."
"We were up seven, and they tied it up within the first three possessions after halftime," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "They stole the momentum right from the third quarter and we couldn't catch up."
Antonio Daniels' 19-footer early in the fourth quarter pulled Washington within a basket, but it got no closer as Orlando extended its advantage behind a 7-0 spurt over the next 2 1/2 minutes.
Francis found Nelson for a dagger 3-pointer that made it 101-90 with 54 seconds left.
"That shot right there was big," said Francis, who made just 2-of-7 shots. They (Washington's defense) collapsed and Jameer was able to hit the shot. Over the last three weeks, I haven't seen a young guy come in to this league and play this good, night in and night out. He's knocking down 3-point shots and getting to the basket. It's been great to watch him evolve and grow."
"It was great," Nelson said of Francis' return. "He complements your game. He's out there getting rebounds, steals, assists and filling up the stat sheet."
DeShawn Stevenson scored 19 points and Tony Battie added 14 and 11 rebounds for the Magic, who shot 50 percent (36-of-71) from the field and made 6-of-12 3-pointers.
Antawn Jamison had a season high 30 points and with 12 rebounds and Gilbert Arenas added 21 for Washington, which shot just 40 percent (30-of-75).
Jamison became the 34th active player to reach 10,000 points for his career.
"Ten thousand points is a great accomplishment," said Jamison, who shot 12-of-18 from the field. "It ranks right up there with all the things that I have accomplished in the NBA. It is definitely something that I am going to cherish."
"We couldn't hit shots tonight," said Arenas, who was just 5-of-20. "Everything swung in the second half. They were just stroking it. We had all the momentum in the first half and they had all the momentum in the second half."