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McGrady out with back injury, Magic fall

4/2/2002

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Tracy McGrady is hurt, which means the
Orlando Magic are in agony.

McGrady was carted off on a stretcher after going down with
severe back spasms early in Orlando's 106-92 loss to the Charlotte
Hornets on Friday night. The Magic will not have their superstar
back until next week at the earliest, coach Doc Rivers said, even though a team spokesperson said Saturday that McGrady could return earlier.

Minus McGrady, Orlando will be without 25.7 points, 7.7 rebounds
and 5.3 assists per game. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is
the NBA's only other player averaging at least 25 points, five
rebounds and five assists.

"Anybody in here who can help?" Rivers asked the press corps
following the loss, the Magic's first in seven games. "Tryouts are
(Saturday)."

McGrady had an MRI on his lower back late Friday, and the results were negative. So too were subsequent X-rays of his lower back. He will spend night at an Orlando hospital as a precaution, the Magic said. The team will list McGrady as day-to-day, and he is not expected to travel with the team to Milwaukee for Sunday's game.

Despite the loss, the Magic remained in fourth place in the
Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of Milwaukee.

"We can't back down now," said Troy Hudson, who led the Magic
with 23 points. "We've come too far, we're in a nice position and
we have to keep it."

McGrady was injured in the second quarter after being sandwiched
by Charlotte's Robert Traylor and George Lynch on a drive. He
didn't move for several minutes, and emergency medical personnel
gingerly lifted him into a stretcher and wheeled him off the court.

McGrady's injury left the Magic without their top three scorers.
Grant Hill (16.8 points per game) has been out since late November
following surgery on his troublesome left ankle, and Mike Miller
(15.8 ppg) hasn't played since he sprained an ankle on March 8.

"We've had guys (step up) all year, so it's not enough for the
guys who have stepped up already," Pat Garrity said. "Now it's
time to ask, 'What more do you got?"'

McGrady had missed four games this season -- three with a lower
back strain and one with a sore right foot -- and Orlando lost
three.

For the Hornets, winners of five straight, Jamal Mashburn had 29
points and David Wesley added 21. Charlotte stayed tied with
Indiana for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

"The team is talking about winning and making the playoffs,"
Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. "Everyone's really focused on
that now. We really want to make a push at the playoffs because
once we get in, anything's possible."

After McGrady went out with Charlotte ahead by seven points, the
Magic's emotional hustle kept the game close.

Orlando eventually forged ahead 56-53 early in the third
quarter. Darrell Armstrong, playing with reckless abandon, had 10
of his 22 points in the period.

"They played really hard after (McGrady) went down," Silas
said. "You never can take a team for granted when their main star
goes down."

But the Hornets soon put the game away with 15 unanswered points
in a 3:32 span. Wesley and Baron Davis each had five points,
including back-to-back 3-pointers, as Charlotte took a 73-62 lead
with 2:32 left in the period. From there, Orlando could never cut
the deficit to less than seven points.

Davis finished with 15 points and 13 assists.

Charlotte center Elden Campbell pulled his right hamstring in
the first quarter and did not return. He was scoreless with four
rebounds in eight minutes.

Game notes
Charlotte's P.J. Brown had 14 points and 14 rebounds for
his second double-double in three games and fifth of the season
.... The Hornets committed 15 turnovers, one more then they had in
their previous two games. ... Earlier Friday, the Magic signed
guard Dee Brown to a second 10-day contract. Brown was talked out
of retirement to help the Magic fill a perimeter shooting need
created by Miller's injury.