After an impressive start to the season, the Orlando Magic have been mediocre lately.
Winning their home-and-home series against Southeast Division rival Washington would be a good start to getting back on track. The Magic will try to complete the sweep when they face the Wizards for the second straight night in a matchup at the MCI Center.
Orlando moved a season-high five games over .500 with a 93-87 win over San Antonio on Dec. 22. However, the Magic have lost nine of 16 since.
On Friday night, the Magic took a first step in reversing that trend with a 108-101 victory to snap the Wizards’ four-game winning streak. Hedo Turkoglu matched his career high with 31 points—17 in the second quarter—in a reserve role. After making eight straight starts, Turkoglu was removed from the lineup because the Magic reportedly lost faith in his defense.
“Right now, I think that’s the role for Hedo,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said. “That allows us to get Doug Christie on some of those explosive perimeter players we face every night.”
Steve Francis missed his first 11 shots, but his jumper with 44.2 seconds left snapped a 100-all tie. Francis finished with 10 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
“For me to help my team, I don’t have to score,” Francis said. “I rebound and I get everybody else involved. It was disappointing not to be able to make shots, but that’s why we have a team.”
Washington, one of the league’s biggest surprises this season, was looking to secure the best month in franchise history. A win in this gamewould give the Wizards a 12-3 record to end January. The 1976-77 and the 1972-73 teams each went 12-2 in January.
Washington point guard Gilbert Arenas scored 18 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, but the 82-percent free-throw shooter missed five of seven from the line in the final 2:02 after making his first 11.
Antwan Jamison added 28 points, 15 in first quarter. Yet he was benched down the stretch, coming in with 10 seconds left and Orlando up by five—a decision that left Washington coach Eddie Jordan second-guessing himself.
“There were some coaching situations where I didn’t come through tonight,” Jordan said. “I let the team know that, and I will be on my ‘A’ game (Saturday) night.”