ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Orlando Magic are returning to the days
of "Heart and Hustle."
Despite missing All-Stars Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady, the
Magic beat the Utah Jazz 98-90 on Wednesday night as Darrell
Armstrong had 24 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
Winning without stars is nothing new for the Magic. Two seasons
ago, Orlando had a roster of lightly regarded role players, but
with a motto of "Heart and Hustle" the team won 41 games and
narrowly missed the playoffs.
"This was a great character win for our basketball team,"
Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "It was only one win, but for our
guys and the stuff that we have been through these past few days,
you couldn't ask for anything more."
Hill underwent season-ending ankle surgery Wednesday, while
McGrady was in Atlanta having his back looked at by a specialist.
McGrady is expected to be out through the weekend.
"Like Doc told us before the game, this is not a time for us to
hang our heads, but for guys to step up," said Pat Garrity, who
had 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. "In this league,
it's all about opportunities and you have to go out and seize
Karl Malone led Utah with 28 points, and Donyell Marshall had 24
points and a season-high 20 rebounds. The loss kept the Jazz from
reaching the .500 mark for the first time this season.
The fact that Orlando was without Hill and McGrady bothered Utah
coach Jerry Sloan from the beginning.
"Those are the toughest games to play because they're not
expected to play well, and they play a lot more free and easy,"
With the score tied at 83, Troy Hudson's line-drive jumper from
the left baseline with 2:42 remaining gave Orlando the lead for
Andrei Kirilenko hit a free throw 24 seconds later to bring the
Jazz to 85-84. But Garrity's jumper from the right wing -- after he
created space by knocking over Malone -- put the Magic up by three.
Again, Utah climbed within one when John Crotty hit a pair of
free throws following an offensive rebound with 1:49 to play.
However, Garrity's 3-pointer off a pick-and-roll with Armstrong
gave Orlando a 90-86 lead with 43 seconds left. In the final
quarter, Garrity made 5 of 6 shots, including all three 3-point
Armstrong and Hudson both were perfect on four free throws in
the final 30 seconds to seal the win.
Game notes The last time Utah opened a season so poorly was 1987-88,
when it also had 12 wins in its first 26 games. ... Replacing
McGrady in the starting lineup was forward Monty Williams, with
Miller moving to guard. It was Williams' first start in two
seasons. Also, Andrew DeClercq replaced rookie Steven Hunter as the
Magic's starting center. ... Utah still leads the series 18-9, but
is only 8-6 in Orlando. ... Jazz center John Amaechi received a
nice round of applause when he checked in late in the second
quarter. He played the last two seasons with Orlando before signing
a four-year free-agent contract with Utah in July.