Orlando (1-0) at New Orleans (0-1)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: New Orleans, LA
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Fri Nov 5, 2004
  • TV: WRBW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Steve Francis is already helping people forget Tracy McGrady in Orlando.

Francis and the Magic look to build on a dramatic season-opening win as they visit the New Orleans Hornets.

Orlando is off to a fast start with a new cast this season after the McGrady-led Magic went 1-19 to begin 2003-04.

Francis capped a brilliant night by hitting the game-winning layup with two-tenths of a second remaining Wednesday, lifting Orlando to a 93-92 victory over Milwaukee.

Acquired from Houston in the blockbuster offseason trade that sent McGrady to the Rockets, Francis finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in his Magic debut.

“I’ve hit some shots in my career, but I think this one is even more special being that this is my first official game for the organization,” said Francis.

The seven-player trade with Houston highlighted the Magic’s massive overhaul during the summer. Orlando has just four players remaining from April’s roster.

“The guys in the locker room now don’t have a reference point for what happened last year,” coach Johnny Davis said. “We don’t even talk about what happened last year. Last year is gone.”

While Francis was impressive in his Magic debut, Grant Hill’s steady performance and rookie Dwight Howard’s energetic play could be the biggest developments to come out of Wednesday’s opener.

Hill had 20 points in his return from a 21-month layoff due to a chronic ankle injury. Howard, the first overall player selected in this year’s draft, had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in his pro debut.

Hill made 10 of 21 shots in his first regular-season action since Jan. 16, 2003 after sitting out last season following the fourth surgery on his left ankle.

“It was fun for me to be out there, fun for us to be out there and fun to get the win,” said Hill, who was playing in just his 58th game since joining the Magic before the 2000-01 season.

Howard went 6-for-11, and his athletic feats—flying slams, rebounds in traffic—repeatedly wowed the fans.

“When you think about a kid just coming out of high school who went to the prom four months ago, he’s doing a nice job,” said Davis of his prized rookie.

The Hornets should be happy to see a familiar Eastern Conference foe after getting blitzed in their first game since moving to the Western Conference.

Point guard Baron Davis had 26 points and nine assists, but it wasn’t enough as New Orleans lost 106-91 to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. New Orleans committed 17 turnovers, leading to 23 Dallas points.

“Not very good,” Byron Scott said after losing his Hornets coaching debut. “All the things we have been working on … it just seemed to go out the window. Obviously we can rectify it, but I’m still disappointed in the way we came out.”

STANDINGS (through Nov. 3): Magic - 1st place (tied), Southeast Division. Hornets - 3rd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Southwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Magic - F Hill, F Howard, C Kelvin Cato, G Cuttino Mobley, G Francis. Hornets - F George Lynch, F P.J. Brown, C Jamaal Magloire, G Baron Davis, G David Wesley.

TEAM LEADERS: Magic - - Francis, 26.0 ppg and 7.0 apg; Dwight Howard, 10.0 rpg. Hornets - Baron Davis, 25.0 ppg and 9.0 apg; Magloire, 12.0 rpg.

2003-2004 SEASON SERIES: Hornets, 4-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 17; Hornets, 91-90. At New Orleans, Steve Smith led five Hornets in double-figures with 17 points as the Hornets were able to overcome McGrady’s game-high 33 points.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Magic - 0-0 on the road; Hornets - 0-1 at home.

INJURIES: Magic - F Brandon Hunter (Achilles); C Andrew DeClercq (knee); C Mario Kasun (knee). Hornets - G Junior Harrington (back), F Jamal Mashburn (knee), G Tim Pickett (back).

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