- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 29, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Washington Wizards could not continue their magic season last night against the Magic.

Hedo Turkoglu matched his career high with 31 points — 17 in the second quarter — as Orlando beat Washington 108-101 to snap a four-game winning streak for the Wizards (26-16).

After making eight straight starts, Turkoglu was in a reserve role because the Magic had lost faith in his defense. Although he made a strong case for returning to the lineup, Turkoglu said he doesn’t care where his playing time comes from.

“As long as I get my minutes, I’ll always feel comfortable,” said Turkoglu, who was 5-for-7 on 3-pointers and 12-for-18 from the floor overall. “Right now, I’m feeling good, confident.”

Washington’s defense staggered out of the gate, allowing the Magic 12 points — 10 in the paint — in the first 3:13. After a timeout, the Wizards buckled down and surrendered only 11 in the next 9:40 to go up 33-23.

Turkoglu single-handedly erased Washington’s lead, draining four jumpers for 10 points in a span of 1:58. He led Orlando’s bench to a 46-23 scoring advantage.

“Right now, I think that’s the role for Hedo,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said. “That allows us to get Doug Christie on some of those explosive perimeter players we face every night.”

Steve Francis missed his first 11 shots, but his jumper with 44.2 seconds left snapped a 100-100 tie. Francis finished with 10 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

“For me to help my team, I don’t have to score,” the former Maryland star said. “I rebound and I get everybody else involved. It was disappointing not to be able to make shots, but that’s why we have a team.”

After Gilbert Arenas missed a layup for the Wizards, Dwight Howard grabbed the rebound and Francis made two free throws with 16.6 seconds left to seal the win. Howard had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his 12th double-double.

Grant Hill had 22 points and eight rebounds for Orlando.

Arenas scored 18 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, but he missed five of seven free throws in the final 2:02 after making his first 11.

“I think the rim was broken at the end,” said Arenas, who entered the game shooting 81.6 percent from the line. “They need to fix that before we come back. Really, I felt like a rookie again in crunch time.”

Antawn Jamison added 28 points, 15 in the first quarter. Yet he was benched down the stretch, coming in with 10 seconds left and Orlando up by five — a decision that left Washington coach Eddie Jordan second-guessing himself.

“There were some coaching situations where I didn’t come through tonight,” Jordan said. “I let the team know that, and I will be on my ‘A’ game [tonight].”

Christie, making his second start since being acquired in a Jan.10 trade with Sacramento, shot 3-for-10 for seven points, with five turnovers. In all, the Francis-Christie backcourt combined for a 4-for-22, 12-turnover night.

“Even though Doug didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, I thought he did a terrific job making Arenas work for baskets,” Davis said. “Arenas is tough to guard, as evidenced by the 18 free throws. But when you think about the number of shots he took and how much the ball is in his hands, I thought Doug made the game really difficult for Arenas.”

Arenas was 8-for-22 from the field, missing eight of his first 10 shots. He also had eight assists and four steals.

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