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Magic's McGrady too tough down stretch for Wizards

3/11/2002

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The sellout crowd at T.D. Waterhouse Centre
bought their tickets to Friday night's game thinking they'd see
Michael Jordan. Although he stayed home with a bum knee, the 17,248
fans still witnessed a Jordanesque performance.

Tracy McGrady scored a career-high 50 points as the Orlando
Magic snapped a four-game losing streak with a 99-96 win over the
Washington Wizards.

"It means a lot, especially when you get your career-high AND
you win," said McGrady, whose previous best was 49 points. "It's
a great feeling."

The last time an Orlando player topped 50 points was April 20,
1994, when Shaquille O'Neal scored a franchise-record 53 points
against Minnesota.

McGrady broke a 96-all tie with an 8-foot leaner with 13 seconds
to play.

"The best part was he just took it at full blast," Orlando
coach Doc Rivers said. "He never broke stride, and his thought
was, 'I have to get to the basket and someone is going to have to
make a great play to stop me.' And that was great."

After the Wizards' Tyronn Lue missed a potential game-tying
shot, McGrady reached 50 points with a free throw with 0.8 seconds
left. He had 15 points in the fourth quarter

McGrady shot 18-for-29 from the field, including 4-for-7 on
3-pointers. He also had 10 rebounds.

"I told my boys before I left the house, 'I'm getting at least
40 tonight,"' McGrady said. "I came out strong, my shot was
feeling good, my legs were feeling fresh."

Washington, which lost for the ninth time in 11 games, had a
second chance to tie, but Chris Whitney's open 3-pointer at the
buzzer was short. Whitney entered the game as the team's top
3-point shooter, but he missed all six of his shots and scored one
point.

"When you get a look like that, you have to be thankful,"
Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "We executed the play to
perfection, but Chris wasn't able to knock it in."

Richard Hamilton's 26 points led the Wizards, who have dropped
four of six games since Jordan underwent knee surgery. Lue added 13
points and tied his career-high with eight assists.

The Magic had to play most of the game short-handed after guard
Mike Miller twisted his ankle midway through the first quarter and
didn't return. Miller was averaging 16 points.

"He has a pretty severe sprain," Rivers said.

Washington trailed by 15 points early in the third period, but
slowly climbed back to tie at 84 on Lue's 3-pointer with 9 minutes
remaining. From there, the game had four ties and three lead
changes.

Key to the Wizards' rally was their 14-5 rebounding edge and
10-for-16 shooting in the third quarter.

The Wizards took their first lead of the game when Courtney
Alexander's jumper put them up 90-88 with 6:05 left. Alexander, who
had a season-high 32 points in the Wizards' 107-102 overtime win
over Orlando last Sunday, finished with 13.

McGrady had 14 points in the first quarter, including 10
straight in a 1:23 span. His twisting layup over Christian Laettner
gave Orlando a 14-4 lead with 3:30 elapsed in the game. The Magic
eventually took a 14-point advantage.

When Miller got hurt and McGrady sat down, the Wizards took
advantage. Outscoring Orlando 16-8 over a six-minute stretch,
Washington closed to 36-29.

However, McGrady checked back in at the 8:47 mark and scored
another five points in barely a minute. That put the Magic back up
by 14.

McGrady scored Orlando's last seven points of the half as the
Magic took a 59-47 lead into the break. His last basket was his
fifth 3-pointer of the half on six tries.

Game notes
Washington had two players with double-doubles. Laettner
had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Tyrone Nesby added 11 points
and 10 rebounds. ... Besides McGrady, nobody else on the Magic
scored more than 10 points. ... Entering the game, Orlando's
opponents were shooting a league-worst 73.4 percent from the foul
line. The Wizards went 19-of-21 on free throws. ... Orlando had won
eight of nine against Washington before the Wizards split their
four meetings this season.