Francis hit his second game-winner, soaring into the lane to put back Pat Garrity’s missed 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left Friday night. That gave the Magic a 90-89 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
“What more can Francis do?” said center Kelvin Cato, who had 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots himself. “Hopefully, he can do something to stop us from having to put up the last shot to win at the buzzer like that.”
With the victory the Magic are 2-0, despite barely shooting better than 40 percent and turning the ball over 19 times against New Orleans. Last season, Orlando started 1-19.
“If we win all those games like that, I don’t care … but hopefully we can continue to get better,” said Francis, who finished with 19 points. “People can say we played bad, but it’s the end result that counts.”
The Hornets fell to 0-2 with both losses coming at home.
Baron Davis, whose 36 points kept the Hornets in the game, had the ball in his hands along the baseline as the last seconds ticked away. He made a no-look pass into the paint, but Jamaal Magloire bobbled it and had to rush a shot that was blocked by Stacy Augmon, who was let go by the Hornets in the off season.
“I could have shot it, but I saw (Magloire) … I kind of passed the ball a little too low,” Davis said. “But plays like that happen. You’ve got to give them credit for making a defensive play.”
The ending stunned the crowd, charged up after watching the Hornets rally to take only their second lead of the game, 89-88, on David Wesley’s 3-pointer with 19 seconds left.
On the Magic’s next possession, Garrity missed a 3-pointer but Francis— acquired from Houston in an offseason deal for Tracy McGrady—won the scramble for a long rebound and was given a time-out as he slid to the floor. That infuriated the Hornets, who wanted Francis called for traveling.
Instead, Orlando got a second chance to win and cashed in.
Orlando reserve Hedo Turkoglu, in only for 23 minutes, scored 21 points— six more than the entire Hornets’ bench. Turkoglu connected on everything from his two 3-pointers to mid-range jumpers and leaners in traffic.
His jumper, followed soon after by a putback of his own miss, quickly erased the Hornets’ first lead of the game late in the third quarter.
Cuttino Mobley added 13 points for the Magic, 10 in the second half, and Hill scored 10.
After Garrity’s 3-pointer gave the Magic a 78-69 lead with about eight minutes remaining, the Hornets started to claw back as Davis took over the game. He hit on a couple of tough drives into traffic, one as he was fouled, and added a 3-pointer—all inside the last 3:30.
That got get the Hornets as close as 88-86, and Davis also set up Wesley’s go-ahead shot.
Wesley finished with 13 points, as did Magloire.
Orlando rookie Dwight Howard had 10 rebounds, his second double-figure effort on the boards. The Magic finished with a 48-36 rebounding advantage, with 16 offensive rebounds figuring in 12 second-chance points.
Orlando also outscored New Orleans 26-8 at the foul line.
“You look at the stats (the rebounds and free throws)—that’s the difference in the game right there,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “We did a lot of good things tonight. We needed one rebound (to win) and weren’t able to get that.”
Hill played 31 minutes. After playing only 47 games in the previous four seasons because of recurring ankle problems, he’s expected to play again Saturday night, his third game in four nights. … The Hornets lost to Orlando for the first time since the 2002-03 season. … Davis got off to a second slow start shooting. He started 1-for-5 after beginning 1-for-6 on opening night. … Rookie J.R. Smith missed his first two free throws as a professional in the opening minutes of the second quarter of his second game, but later converted an alley-oop pass from Davis. … Turkoglu scored Orlando’s first eight points in the second quarter. … Jameer Nelson missed all six shots he took.