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Another big game by Harris carries Magic past Wizards

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO - Tobias Harris sounded happy when the Orlando Magic acquired him from the Milwaukee Bucks almost six weeks ago.

He sounds ecstatic now.

Harris, the second-year forward from St. John's, has blossomed with the Magic, scoring a career-high 30 points and grabbing 11 rebounds Friday night in a 97-92 victory over the Washington Wizards.

It was his second consecutive career high after scoring 29 points Wednesday night against Charlotte.

"I still thank the organization daily for the trade," Harris said. "I think about it a lot. I could still be sitting on the bench in Milwaukee, wondering if I'd ever get a chance."

The Magic (19-54) snapped an eight-game losing streak and overcame another big game from Wizards point guard John Wall, who had a game-high 35 points and nine rebounds.

Wall, who had 47 points earlier this week in a victory over Memphis, made 11 of 28 shots. Martell Webster had 19 points for the Wizards.

"This feels good," Harris said. "All my life, I've wanted to be in the end of games, trying to close out games and this is just part of me growing as a player."

This was his third consecutive game of at least 20 points. In Milwaukee this season, he averaged just 4.9 points and 11.6 minutes. In 18 games in Orlando, he is averaging a team-high 16.6 points and 33.5 minutes.

"We look at Tobias like he's an eight-year veteran now," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "He's just out there trying to will his team to a win. It's great to see, a young guy really taking this opportunity and stepping up and be savvy enough to push his teammates."

The Magic never trailed in the fourth quarter, although the Wizards had tied it at 78 on a 3-pointer by Trevor Ariza when they scored the first seven points of the period.

Maurice Harkless had 18 points and E'Twaun Moore 15 points for Orlando. Harris scored five points in the last 1:30 for the Magic, who held off a late charge by Wall and the Wizards (26-46).

The Magic, already without center Nicola Vucevic (concussion), guard Arron Afflalo (hamstring) and forward Glen Davis (foot), lost starting point guard Jameer Nelson in the first quarter to an right ankle sprain.

Harris took charge for much of the game, hitting 11 of 21 shots.

The Wizards held a 55-41 rebound edge, but they shot just 37 percent from the field (30 of 81). The Magic hit 37 of 86 (43 percent).

"We have to step up defensively. They did what they wanted," Wall said. "We didn't play any defense, and that is what we pride ourselves on. We gave this game away."

The Wizards, who trailed by 12 points at halftime, led briefly in the third period after making a 13-0 run. The Magic regained the lead by scoring the last eight points of the third period and took a 78-71 advantage into the fourth.

"It's a game of will, and how much do you have," Webster said. "As a team, I thought we gave ourselves a fighting chance, but it wasn't enough at the end."

The Magic led, 58-46, at intermission after shooting 51 percent from the field. Harris had 17 points and five rebounds by intermission. Harkless had 12 points and six rebounds.

Wall had 18 points in the first two quarters, including one final basket when he streaked downcourt with a steal and scored just as time expired.

The Magic led by as many as 16 points in the first half.

Notes: The Wizards were not happy with Magic forward Kyle O'Quinn when he knocked Wall to the floor in the first quarter on his drive to the basket. O'Quinn was called for a flagrant foul on a play. The Wizards are 5-28 this season without Wall. With him, they are 21-18. . . . . . Vucevic missed his fifth consecutive game with a concussion. Although he was on the court taking shots in the morning, the NBA protocol for concussion return requires him to practice with the team before he can return to game action. . . . . The Wizards benefited from the return of Ariza, who missed the previous three games with the flu. . . . . . Washington's Nene missed his third consecutive game with a sore right knee. Webster (abdomen strain) started Friday for the Wizards after missing the past two games. . . . . Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu, who returned earlier this week from a 20-game suspension (violating the NBA steroid rule), said he still wants to be part of the Magic next season, although it seems unlikely at the moment. The Magic have gone completely to a youth movement. Turkoglu, 34, has one year and $12 million remaining on his contract, although only $6 million is guaranteed. "When summertime comes, we'll see what happens," Turkoglu said. "I don't even know my future right now."
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