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Orlando snaps 7-game losing streak to Spurs

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Orlando Magic refused to let the San
Antonio Spurs get away this time.

Steve Francis scored 29 points, seven in a late game-breaking
run, and Orlando snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Spurs
with a 93-87 win Wednesday night. The victory came a week after
Orlando lost in San Antonio after fumbling away a 12-point lead.

"We had a chance to win down there but could not close,"
Orlando coach Johnny Davis said. "Tonight, we did a much better
job of closing the game down."

That's been a problem for Orlando recently. The Magic had lost
four of five games, and in three of those defeats they entered the
fourth quarter leading or tied.

"Luckily, we have a team, coach, people who are not going to
give up regardless if we have a lead and blow it," Francis said.

On Wednesday, Orlando trailed 73-72 midway through the fourth
quarter before Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer put the Magic ahead to
stay. The former Spur had 16 points.

With 5:58 remaining, San Antonio responded with a free throw
from Tim Duncan. His 24 points led the Spurs, but he was silent
after that in the face of Tony Battie's defense.

"Great individual defense on Duncan, which enabled us to stay
at home with the other shooters they have," Davis said.

Duncan made 11 of 22 shots but missed four of six free throws,
as San Antonio made a season-low 50 percent of its foul shots. The
13 free throws also were a season worst.

In the Spurs' last three games, they shot less than 55 percent
(41-of-75) from the line.

"Free throws are a killer," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich
said. "Free throws allow you to stay in a game, and they allow you
to maintain leads and make runs. We had those opportunities, but we
shot so poorly that it really made it tough for us."

Francis extended Orlando's lead to 81-76 by driving the lane and
drawing a foul from Duncan for a three-point play. Francis made 13
of 17 free throws.

The Spurs followed with another basket, but Cuttino Mobley hit a
3-pointer from the left corner. Two minutes earlier, he sank a long
jumper with Manu Ginobili in his face and the shot clock winding
down, for a 78-74 lead.

Francis then made a pair of free throws and added a fast-break
layin, extending the margin to 10.

To end the 18-5 run, Mobley dunked off Francis' lob to put the
Magic ahead by 12 with less than two minutes remaining. Mobley
finished with 11 points, and Francis had seven rebounds and six
assists.

"Cuttino and Hedo did a good job of hitting big shots when we
needed them, and Tony did a great job playing defense on Tim
Duncan," Francis said. "That was the difference in the game."

San Antonio lost for the first time in five games.

"We're playing pretty well right now but we still have a lot of
things to clean up," Duncan said.

Tony Parker had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Ginobili added 14 points and nine rebounds.

The teams missed their first 10 shots, and the opening basket
came on Grant Hill's fast-break layup at 8:50. San Antonio's
0-for-8 start was broken by Ginobili's 3-pointer more than four
minutes in.

The Spurs' poor foul shooting sabotaged an opportunity to create
some distance with an odd sequence midway through the second
quarter. After Malik Rose was fouled on a layup try, Turkoglu was
hit with a technical for arguing then received a delay of game
warning after bouncing the ball toward official Courtney Kirkland.

Ginobili missed the technical free throw. When Francis dawdled
lining up for Rose's free throw, that resulted in a technical for
the delay. Beno Udrih missed that shot, before Rose sank one of two
foul shots for a 29-24 lead.

Game notes
Orlando believes injured center Kelvin Cato will return to
action next week. He's missed the last eight games after separating
his right shoulder on Dec. 6. ... Magic center Andrew DeClercq,
recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee, probably won't
be back until after the All-Star game. Earlier, the team estimated
he'd be ready in January.

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