By John Denton
March 29, 2013
ORLANDO -- This time, when a big first-half lead that the Orlando Magic worked hard to build inexplicably evaporated, there was no panic and no struggles down the stretch.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has said repeatedly that his youth-filled roster is learning valuable lessons in this rebuilding season and that, in time, it would be better served for what the team has endured.
Riding the hot shooting of forward Tobias Harris and the gritty all-around play of rookie Maurice Harkless, Orlando rallied in the third quarter and withstood several charges down the stretch to defeat the Washington Wizards 97-92 at the Amway Center.
The Magic won when Beno Udrih made a free throw with 21 seconds remaining to preserve a three-point lead. Harris then calmly made two more free throws with 14 seconds and another with five seconds remaining to clinch the victory.
``All of my life I have wanted the ball at the end of a game,’’ Harris said. ``I wanted to try to close out the game. That’s a part of me that’s growing. You have to have confidence in your game and be ready. I know the preparation I put in night-in and night-out getting up shots and when the opportunity came tonight I wanted to take advantage of it.’’
Orlando (19-54) snapped an eight-game losing streak and won at the Amway Center for the first time since Feb. 10. Eleven of the Magic’s wins this season have come in Orlando.
In another full-blown rebuilding phase with five rookies and three second-year players on this season’s roster, the Magic eclipsed the 18-win total of the first-year expansion team in 1989-90. That first team went 18-64.
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