WASHINGTON (AP)—For the second time in a decade, the Washington Wizards have a winning record after five games.
Jarvis Hayes added 15 points for the Wizards, who snapped a two-game skid and won at home for the first time this season. They also opened 3-2 last year, their first winning start after five games since the 1994-95 season.
“It’s a big victory for us,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “We have to get better, though.”
Grant Hill led Orlando with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists, another encouraging sign in his comeback from a string of ankle injuries the past few years. Steve Francis added 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“I really, really enjoy the fact that we have other options with Grant,” Francis said. “I think Grant has displayed that he’s not going to take a night off.”
Hill, who shot 10-for-22 and had six rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes, said his body felt good after playing back-to-back nights but he still needs to improve his conditioning.
“I feel great,” he said. “I was a little disappointed in myself because I thought I got a little tired out there at the end of the game. My endurance and my legs are coming back but it’s not where I want it to be.
“I’ve got to get ready to answer the call. For me, this was a good test tonight and I thought I did pretty good.”
Jamison’s three-point play gave the Wizards a 96-90 lead with 1:50 remaining. Hughes converted another three-point play to put Washington ahead 99-90 with 1:05 left. Jamison, who led the Wizards with 11 rebounds, made two free throws with 47 seconds left to seal the victory.
“We competed well tonight but we turned the ball over in inopportune times,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said of his team’s 20 turnovers that the Wizards converted into 25 points. “They shot 19 free throws in the first half, which is an indication of us not moving our feet and allowing them a lot of penetration.”
After drawing a charge on Hughes, Francis hit a turnaround jumper to pull the Magic to 86-83 with 4:24 remaining. Hughes answered with three free throws to give the Wizards a 91-85 lead.
“I know I can make plays late in games,” Hughes said. “We have a couple other guys here now who can also make the plays. That makes everybody’s job easier.”
With 10 rebounds, Magic forward Dwight Howard became the first NBA rookie to grab double-digit boards in his first five games since Orlando’s Shaquille O’Neal in 1992-93. O’Neal went on to accomplish the feat in his first 12 games in the league.
Michael Ruffin gave Washington a 67-54 lead on a three-point play with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter. Hayes added a jumper to put the Wizards ahead by 15 midway through the period.
The Magic switched to a zone defense and answered with 19 consecutive points, including two 3-pointers each by Pat Garrity and Hedo Turkoglu, for a 75-71 lead. Hill also had a three-point play during the run. Orlando led 77-76 after three quarters.
“We were playing our game,” Francis said. “The way that we lost the game, we got out of our game playing 1-on-1 basketball. Guys were taking ill-advised shots and they were getting some lenient calls from the refs.
“Both of the games we’ve lost, we let them get away. We can’t get those back. The only way we can get them back is by beating teams we’re not supposed to beat. Hopefully, we learned that.”
Francis gave the Magic a 38-33 lead on a high-flying drive and tied the score at 43 on a monster dunk with 2:25 remaining in the first half.
“We’ve shown at times for stretches we can be really good,” Hill said. “We just need to be really good all the time.”
The Wizards, on the other hand, like the direction they’re headed.
“It’s still kind of early but we like the place we’re at and we like the direction we’re going,” Hayes said.
Francis, who played college ball at nearby Maryland, bought 150 tickets at $90 apiece—a $13,500 investment in family and friends. … Former NFL running back Calvin Hill was at the game to watch his only child, Grant, play for the Magic. … Ex-Wizard Gheorghe Muresan also attended the game. … Both teams played the night before. Orlando won at home against Dallas, while the Wizards lost in Miami.