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Magic fails in second chance

An apparent blown call gives Orlando a reprieve but Charlotte dominates OT to win 110-100.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002

ORLANDO -- What a long, strange series it's been.

Charlotte's relocation fiasco and half-empty arena. Players rushed to the hospital in midgame. The Magic and Hornets play better on the road than at home in the playoffs. It has been a weird series, one that got weirder Saturday afternoon in Game 3.

Official Bernie Fryer waved off Baron Davis' 3-point bank shot at the buzzer that would have won the game for Charlotte, giving Orlando a reprieve.

At home, in front of the first full crowd of the series, with the Hornets missing leading scorer Jamal Mashburn to a virus, the Magic were poised to take a 2-1 series lead. The Hornets looked like they were about to come apart after Davis' apparent game-winner was disallowed.

So what happened? The Magic collapsed in overtime, of course.

Charlotte pushed Orlando to the brink of elimination with a 110-100 overtime win in front of 16,754, taking a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference series. It was the Hornets' third consecutive win at the TD Waterhouse Centre.

Instead of finishing the series at home, the Magic faces Game 4 at home at 7 p.m. Tuesday that it must win to force Game 5 Friday at Charlotte.

"The game came down to Baron Davis just grabbing the ball and saying "I'm going to take this game over,' " Orlando coach Doc Rivers said.

Davis won his personal battle with the Magic's Tracy McGrady to see who was the best player on the court with a bad back. Davis had a triple double with 33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in 52 minutes. McGrady had 37 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 51 minutes.

"At the beginning of the game my back was a little tight," Davis said. "But overall the rest of my body and my focus was at an ultimate high. I was willing to lay it all out on the line."

And he did, making big shots and scoring 13 in the fourth and overtime combined. Davis shook off having his winning shot waved off and responded with another 3 with 4:39 left in overtime to give Charlotte a 96-92 lead.

Davis scored the last six points of overtime, and his 3-pointer with 37.2 seconds extended the lead to nine and sent the crowd scurrying for the exits. Orlando made one basket, Pat Garrity's 3-pointer, in OT.

Why was Davis' shot waved off? Fryer told the other officials beforehand, no matter what the clock said, there wouldn't be enough time to get off the shot in 0.7 seconds -- though that was what Davis did, releasing the ball with 0.2 seconds left.

"I'm not going to allow a catch, turn, pop, and shoot," Fryer said. "You can rely on the clock, but I am going to rely on my judgment on (how) long it takes him to get the shot off."

The Hornets' bench was the real difference, however, outscoring Orlando's 36-11 and outrebounding it 21-1. "When you look at those numbers," Rivers said, "you can see why we lost the game."

But the Magic twice had a chance to win in the last minute. McGrady's 3-pointer tied it at 92 with 1:13 left, but he missed a two-handed layup off the glass with 36.2 seconds left.

Orlando had one more chance with 8.1 seconds left, and Rivers diagrammed a play to give McGrady the last shot. But Mike Miller -- who went scoreless in nine minutes playing on a sprained left ankle -- couldn't get the ball to McGrady.

So Miller took -- and missed -- the shot.

"Did you really think that shot was set up for (Miller)? Honestly?" Rivers said. "That shot was set up for Tracy, but they did a good job of taking it away. I honestly thought Tracy was open enough to take the shot, but Mike made the decision that he didn't want (Stacey Augmon) stealing the ball."

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