Francis Rallies Magic Past Kings
Orlando 83, Sacramento 78
ORLANDO, Florida, Jan. 21 (Ticker) -- With baskets at a premium, Steve Francis found another way to score.
Francis forced overtime with a driving layup, then made five free throws in the extra session as the Orlando Magic rallied for an 83-78 victory over the Sacramento Kings, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Francis had a rough game, making just 4-of-20 shots. But one of those baskets was a strong drive that pulled Orlando into a 74-74 tie with 21 seconds left in regulation - the first tie since 24-24.
"Coach (Brian Hill) asked me to be more aggressive and take charge in situations," Francis said. "You've got to be put in those positions to be able to do those things. Sometimes I wasn't put in position to do those things at the end of the game."
"Obviously, he didn't shot the ball well tonight," said Hill, whose team won its sixth straight home game. "But I thought he really had his focus defensively. He had the assignment of Mike Bibby and did an excellent job on him. And that big bucket at the end (of regulation) and all those free throws. As I said, he belonged out there and tonight he did a great job down the stretch. We don't win this game without him."
Neither team shot well in overtime as Orlando was 1-of-4 and Sacramento 0-of-9. But Francis was able to use his quickness to get to the line three separate times.
After two free throws by Shareef Abdur-Rahim pulled the Kings into a 78-78 tie with 42 seconds to go, Francis used a headfake to get Jason Hart into the air and draw a foul. His two free throws with 23 seconds left gave the Magic the lead for good.
Abdur-Rahim had his baseline drive smothered by Howard and Tony Battie and Francis sealed the win with two more from the line with 5.2 seconds to play.
"I was just trying to make a play for my team," Howard said. "The last thing Randy (Magic assistant coach Randy Ayers) told me was to make a play. I just wanted to get down and play good defense."
"Unbelievable. He is averaging almost 20-20 every night," Kings forward Peja Stojakovic said. "He's the reason why the Magic are winning at home."
Despite the poor shooting, Francis had 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He made 10-of-12 free throws, keeping the Magic unbeaten since his return.
DeShawn Stevenson scored 13 points for Orlando, which won despite shooting under 34 percent (29-of-86), including 0-of-12 from the arc.
Bibby, who had scored 40 or more points in two of the last three games, was limited to 17 points on 8-of-22 shooting. Brad Miller added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who shot below 37 percent (32-of-87) as they began a six-game road trip.
"They got the free-throw line a lot more than we did," Bibby said. "That's what did it. We couldn't hit any shots. Peja couldn't, but we still had a chance to win."
After opening a 50-39 halftime lead, Sacramento managed just 28 points in the final 29 minutes. It led by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter but had only one basket in the final 10-plus minutes.
"When you start missing shots and things get tougher, you have a tendency to force the issue and that's what we did," Kings Coach Rick Adelman said. "We defended well enough, but just didn't do enough on the other end."