ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—So far, so good for Grant Hill’s latest comeback.
Hill had 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Orlando Magic to a 94-84 victory over Dallas on Tuesday night, the Mavericks first loss of the season.
Steve Francis and Dwight Howard are fitting right in with the Magic, too. Francis, obtained from Houston over the summer, had 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and No. 1 draft pick Howard chipped in with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The stress fracture in Hill’s left ankle has limited him to 47 games since he joined the Magic in 2000, but he has already played on back-to-back nights, and is expected to do it again Wednesday when the Magic visit Washington.
Hill entered Tuesday’s game averaging 15 points, three rebounds and three assists, but he performed well against Dallas, despite seven turnovers.
“We’ve still got a lot more improvement,” Hill said after the Magic improved to 3-1. “I know I do, but that’s why it’s early in the season for us. … As long as we can continue to get better and learn how to win games in different styles, whether it’s having to win big or having to claw to get back into games, hopefully that will prepare us for our ultimate goal which is the postseason.”
The 18-year-old Howard has 10 or more rebounds in all four games. A high school star a year ago, he also did a fine job defending All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 20 points but hit only 5 of 16 shots.
“There will be some shining moments with a young guy like Dwight, but what impressed me is how he well he bounced back after a tough game the other night in Charlotte,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said. “He got in foul trouble that night and he was in foul trouble again tonight, but this time when he came back in the game, he did some really good things.”
Dallas may have lost Michael Finley, the team’s All-Star shooting guard. He left the game in the middle of the third quarter with a sprained right ankle. Finley hurt the ankle on a drive to the basket.
He was fouled on the play and stayed in the game to shoot free throws, but lasted only 10 more seconds before leaving for good.
Though listed as day-to-day, neither Finley nor Dallas coach Don Nelson sounded optimistic.
“I’ve rolled it like that before, but when I ran back after the free throws, I knew it wasn’t right,” Finley said.
Nelson said, “It’s probably a degree two sprain and that means he’s going to miss some time.”
Dallas (4-1) struggled with its shooting the entire game, hitting just 29 percent (28-of-96) from the field. Marquis Daniels had 16 points off the bench, while Jason Terry added 13 and Jerry Stackhouse 12.
Hedo Turkoglu had 19 points off the bench for the Magic.
“Dallas is a very good offensive team so holding them to 29 percent shooting and really making them work for that was probably the difference in the game,” Davis said.
The Magic led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter before Nowitzki led a Mavericks rally that closed the gap to 69-62 going into the final period.
However, Turkoglu and Francis gave the Magic a spark early in the fourth quarter, helping the home team build an 85-73 lead with 4:55 left in the game. The Mavericks got the deficit into single digits just once the rest of the game.
Magic guard Cuttino Mobley left the game with 1:48 left in the second period because of a strained groin and didn’t return. He finished with seven points. … Dallas has held opponents under 100 points in all five games this season.