Francis had 29 points and 10 assists to help the Magic snap a three-game losing streak with a 114-111 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night.
“We just wanted to get back to playing well after losing our previous three,” Orlando coach Johnny Davis said. “Our mission is the make this the standard for how we play every night.”
Francis had eight points in the fourth quarter, including a dunk that gave the Magic a seemingly safe 114-105 lead with 48 seconds left. But the Kings’ Cuttino Mobley and Mike Bibby hit consecutive 3-pointers to cut it to 114-111 with 30 seconds to play.
The Kings, playing their eighth road game in a nine-game span, had a final chance with 3.3 seconds to play, but Peja Stojakovic’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was just long.
“It felt pretty good when I released the ball,” Stojakovic said. “An inch shorter and maybe it goes in, but we gave it a good effort.”
Stojakovic led Sacramento with 28 points in his first game after missing seven games because of a hamstring injury. Bibby had 26 points and 10 assists.
“It was great to be back on the court,” Stojakovic said. “I was worried about my injury, but it felt good. It is going to take a couple of days to get back to normal.”
Sacramento lost for the second straight night without center Brad Miller, sidelined by a calf injury. That, combined with trade of Chris Webber to Philadelphia last week, forced the Kings to start backups Darius Songaila and Brian Skinner.
“We’re on the road, you’ve got injuries and trades, it’s tough to get any continuity at all,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said. “Our guys have been really good at trying to fight through it, but we just need to get healthy and work at it.”
Francis scored 18 points and Howard had 16 points in the first half when Orlando shot 61.4 percent from the field, but couldn’t shake the Kings.
Stojakovic had 15 points, and Bibby 13 as Sacramento stayed in the game by shooting 50 percent in the first two quarters.
Orlando finally opened up a lead by outscoring Sacramento 11-2 in the final 2 minutes of the half to take a 67-58 lead. The Kings responded with a 9-0 run at the start the third period to tie it.
A 17-footer by Grant Hill with 7:57 left in the game gave the Magic a 98-88 lead, their biggest of the game. Stojakovic started a 7-0 run with a 17-foot jumper and Darius Songaila’s three-point play cut the deficit it to 98-95 with 6:07 left.
Orlando’s opponents are shooting 50 percent (162-of-324) in the last four games. … Kings C Brad Miller missed his second straight game because if a right calf contusion. His replacement, Brian Skinner, had 12 points and five rebounds. … The Magic are 1-3 since the All-Star break. … Sacramento will finish its six-game trip Friday night in Miami. … Howard had a double-double in the first half with 16 points and 13 rebounds. … Magic F Stacey Augmon’s second-quarter layup was only his third field goal in the last 23 games.