- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2001


During the Washington Wizards' five-game winning streak, coach Leonard Hamilton reminded anyone who would listen that the team had done it despite going through stretches where their offense failed them not a good sign.
Last night Hamilton's warning became a reality.
Leading 94-86 following a 3-pointer by Wizards reserve forward Tyrone Nesby, Orlando's defense held Washington to just two points in the final 5:27 and ended the Wizards' streak 100-96 before 13,352 at MCI Center.
The loss snapped the longest winning streak for the Wizards (12-35) since they won five in a row in December 1997.
"Tonight they made shots," Hamilton said of the Wizards, who have lost six games in a row to the Magic. "I'm more inclined to give them credit for what they did as opposed to trying to find fault with our guys' effort or the lack of effort."
Orlando (21-23) shot 11-for-20 in the fourth quarter (55 percent) while the Wizards were just 7-for-20 (35 percent). Washington also turned over the ball four times in the fourth quarter on the way to being outscored 34-22 down the stretch.
Trailing by eight points after three quarters, Orlando used a 15-3 run late in the game, culminated by a 3-pointer by Pat Garrity with 47.9 left to go ahead 96-94. On Washington's next possession, Orlando's 6-foot-1 Darrell Armstrong blocked a shot by 6-6 Richard Hamilton and converted a fastbreak layup at the other end that pushed the lead to 98-94.
After Mitch Richmond responded with a dunk that ended a stretch of 5:09 between Washington baskets, Orlando reserve guard Troy Hudson iced the game by hitting a pair of free throws for the final margin with 16.9 seconds left.
Tracy McGrady led the winners with 25 points, 17 in the second half. He also added nine rebounds and handed out six assists. Armstrong scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Calvin Booth had the best game of his career for the Wizards, finishing with personal highs in points (18) and blocks (six). Booth also pulled down nine rebounds in 28 minutes. Juwan Howard added 17 points and nine rebounds.
"When they made their run, we got caught standing around," Booth said.
The Wizards had a forgettable first half, shooting just 17-for-45 from the floor and falling behind by as many as 11 points early in the second quarter. But Washington got a huge shot in the arm from Booth in the third.
If he wasn't swatting McGrady's twisting layup attempt, he was dunking errant shots by his teammates. Held without a block in the first half, Booth swatted away four in the third quarter. His intimidation helped Washington limit Orlando to 6-for-21 shooting in the third frame. Meanwhile, Booth was connecting on five of six from the floor.
"He's a great shot blocker," Armstrong said of Booth. "He was playing well, shooting the ball well and he was having a big night."
Riding the energy provided by Booth, Washington outscored Orlando 27-15 in the quarter and closed it out with a 9-2 run to hold a 74-66 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Wizards' resilience stunned Orlando coach Doc Rivers.
"Sometimes when you jump on them, they start splintering," Rivers said. "I was really impressed that they didn't. They hung in there and fought all the way." After making 57 percent of their shots in the first quarter to lead by five, the Magic extended the bulge to 42-32 on the strength of a 10-2 run at the beginning of the second.
Orlando's shooting tailed off in the second quarter, as it hit just 35 percent from the field, but the Magic managed to keep the Wizards off balance at the defensive end. By packing the paint with their big, athletic players and then jumping out to challenge the Wizards' jump shooters, Orlando held the Wizards to just 38 percent shooting from the field in the half.
Wizards point guard Rod Strickland played just seven minutes due to tightness in his hamstrings.

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