Ryan's Place

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wizards Beat Magic 79-87

"It happened again," said Steve Francis, who scored 16 points. "When we really need a basket, we really kind of look discombobulated out there, to where we really don't know who to get shots from. It has to improve in order for us to win a game."

Dwight Howard added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Magic.

Arenas and Jamison scored 10 points in a 12-0 run late in the third quarter that put the Wizards ahead for good, and Washington held on in a sloppy but close fourth quarter in which the teams combined to make only nine field goals. The Wizards would have won with some ease if they hadn't missed 13 of 37 free throws.

"It's early in the season," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "Probably the defense is ahead of the offense for most teams. You just have to take it as it comes."

Francis made it close when he hit a 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining to pull the Magic to 81-79, but Orlando didn't score again. Francis missed two free throws with 56 seconds left, and the Wizards closed out the victory by going 4-for-6 from the line in the final minute.

The talents of Arenas and Howard kept the game watchable in an often ragged evening. Both had eye-popping, one-handed dunks in the first quarter, but the Wizards went more than five minutes without a field goal after Arenas' slam in the second quarter.

The Wizards then failed to score on their first six possessions of the second half. Francis and Howard hooked up for a nice alley-oop, and Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer put Orlando ahead by nine.

But the Magic did little after that. Jamison and Arenas had their run near the end of the third quarter, which included back-to-back 3-pointers, to put the Wizards ahead 65-61 going into the fourth. The Magic started 0-for-9 from the field in the final period.

"We struggled some offensively," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "We were a little hesitant against their zone defense. Obviously, you want to get that first win. You don't want to go too many without it."


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