Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/16

Game 1: Monday, December 16th
Game 2: Friday, January 24th

Magic 84

(13-13, 5-10 away)

Suns 87

(14-10, 10-3 home)

    7:00 PM ET, December 16, 2002

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    ORL 28 23 17 1684
    PHX 18 25 28 1687

    Top Performers

    Orl: P. Garrity 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    PHX: P. Hardaway 16 Pts, 10 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk

    Suns win fourth straight

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Without two of their best players -- including the NBA's leading scorer -- the Orlando Magic still managed to give the Phoenix Suns a fight to the finish.

    Two late powerhouse dunks by 20-year-old rookie Amare Stoudemire made the difference as the Suns won their fourth in a row, 87-84 over the Magic on Monday night.

    "I think the coach believes in me now," Stoudemire said.

    The Magic were without Tracy McGrady (bruised back), the NBA's scoring leader at 30.1 points per game, and Mike Miller (strep throat). Coach Doc Rivers said he found out only minutes before the game that both wouldn't play.

    "We didn't know what we were going to do," Rivers said.

    Given the team's personnel problems, Rivers decided to go with a zone defense, and never left it.

    "I think that might be the first time an NBA team played zone the whole game," Orlando's Pat Garrity said.

    Penny Hardaway had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Phoenix, which climbed four games above .500 for the first time this season. Hardaway has had five career triple-doubles, most recently Dec. 29, 2001.

    All five Suns starters scored in double figures. Shawn Marion had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Stephon Marbury added 12 points and nine assists and Stoudemire had 15 points.

    Garrity scored a season-high 21 points for Orlando, only six in the second half. Jeryl Sasser added 14 points and 11 rebounds, Grant Hill 11 and Darrell Armstrong 10.

    "It was a valiant effort by our guys," Rivers said. "Man, I was just proud of them."

    Hill, Armstrong and Sasser were a combined 12-for-46 from the field.

    "We've had probably more games when we weren't at full strength than we have games when we were at full strength," Hill said. "It puts everybody in a tough situation but that's just the nature of the business."

    The Suns, coming off three straight road victories over Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta, fell behind by as many as 14 points in the first half. Coach Frank Johnson said his team was guilty of playing down to the level of the competition.

    "There's no question about it. We've been doing that all year long," Johnson said. "They basically came out and outhustled us, and all of a sudden we were in a dogfight."

    Hardaway fed Stoudemire for a stuff that put the Suns up for good with 1:46 to play. Stoudemire was fouled on the play and made the free throw to give Phoenix an 85-83 lead.

    Armstrong made one of two free throws with 1:32 to go to cut the lead to 85-84. Stoudemire tried to dunk but couldn't in traffic, then grabbed the rebound and slammed it through to make it 87-84. Shawn Kemp fouled the rookie, but Stoudemire missed the free throw.

    "That guy right there, once he gets it within a foot of the basket, you'd better watch out," Hardaway said of Stoudemire. "We know that, and that's why we try to get him the ball in his comfort zone. He's going to finish with the best of them, and he did that two times in a row."

    Orlando missed four 3-pointers after that, three on its last possession -- by Hill, Garrity and Armstrong.

    McGrady sat out the game after bruising his lower back in Sunday's 104-87 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles.

    Still, the Magic went on a 10-2 run over the final 3 ½ minutes of the first quarter to take a 28-18 lead and stretched it to 42-28 on Ryan Humphrey's two free throws with 3:35 to go in the half. Orlando led 51-43 at the break. Garrity was 3-for-4 from 3-point range in the first half and 5-for-8 for the game.

    Phoenix took its first lead since the game's opening minutes with a 14-2 outburst to go up 54-53 on Hardaway's 20-footer with 8:02 to go in the third quarter. Casey Jacobsen sank a 3-pointer and made two free throws in the final 40.6 seconds of the quarter to give the Suns a 71-68 lead entering the fourth.

    Game notes

    The Magic have lost five road games in a row and five of six overall. ... Phoenix goes back on the road for games at Sacramento on Tuesday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. ... The Suns are 9-3 against the Eastern Conference and 10-3 at home.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 84 87
    FGM-FGA 30-86 (.349) 31-77 (.403)
    3PM-3PA 6-19 (.316) 7-24 (.292)
    FTM-FTA 18-23 (.783) 18-24 (.750)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 21-47 13-43
    Assists 18 27
    Turnovers 12 14
    Steals 7 6
    Blocks 1 8
    Fast Break Points 0 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (1/1) 25 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Pat Garrity Garrity
    Points: 21
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Penny Hardaway Hardaway
    Points: 16
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 2