Magic 104, Wizards 100
McGrady led the Orlando Magic to a 104-100 victory Wednesday night with 39 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“I feel like I’m in the zone,” said McGrady, who’s averaging 32.2 points in his last six games. “I’ve got my swagger back.”
McGrady, picked up where he left off Monday night in Cleveland, where he opened 8-for-8 from 3-point range against the Cavaliers.
He started with a four-point play, a three-point play, a 3-pointer and a layup to give the Magic a 12-2 lead.
Larry Hughes, who missed Washington’s last game with right knee tendinitis, returned to the starting lineup and led the Wizards with 21 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Juan Dixon added 20 points for the Wizards, who lost their fourth in a row at home.
“He tapped into the fountain of youth tonight,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said of Strickland, 37, who left Washington after the 2000-2001 season.
Drew Gooden added 15 points and a season-high five blocks for the Magic.
The Wizards, however, had no answers for McGrady.
“We didn’t come out and do anything to make them uncomfortable in the first half,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “Certainly the intensity was there, but they just controlled us from the beginning.”
Dixon opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point shot-clock buzzer-beater and a jump shot to pull the Wizards to 79-74. McGrady answered with a jumper.
“Coach wanted me to check McGrady for a couple possessions to see how that went,” said Dixon, who yields five inches to McGrady. “They shot over me.”
Dixon went backdoor for a layup to again pull the Wizards within five. McGrady answered with a runner over Etan Thomas in the lane for another three-point play.
After Larry Hughes’ three-point play pulled Washington to 88-81, Rod Strickland assisted McGrady on an alley-oop slam to give the Magic a 90-81 lead.
“When you’re playing a team that’s struggling, it’s really up for grabs, but I imposed my will on the game,” McGrady understated.
Hughes went on to score 12 straight points to pull the Wizards to 96-90 with 2:59 left, and McGrady answered with six consecutive points to put the game away.
“Sometimes when you see a guy going like that guys tend to stand around and watch,” Howard said. “But tonight we all stayed aggressive.”
Dixon made a meaningless 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to pull the Wizards to 104-100, the closest they got in the second half.
McGrady scored 18 points in the first quarter on 6-for-8 shooting, including 2-for-4 from behind the arc. By halftime, he had 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
McGrady began the second quarter with a jumper and another three-point play on a baseline turnaround over Dixon.
When McGrady took a blow moments later, Gooden scored eight straight points for Orlando, including a baseline jumper for a 46-36 lead with 6:06 remaining in the half.
“They countered everything we did,” Brown said.
Former Washington players did well. Howard silenced the boos here by scoring 15 first-half points on 7-for-10 shooting. Strickland had six points and seven assists in the first half, eclipsing his averages. Lue finished with six assists and five points. Keith Bogans, the only basketball player other than Adrian Dantley to earn four varsity letters at nearby DeMatha High, hadseven rebounds and four points.