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Despite poor fourth, Magic edges Chicago

©Associated Press

January 23, 2003


ORLANDO -- The load is getting so heavy for Tracy McGrady, he doesn't want to talk about it anymore.

McGrady scored 31 points, had seven assists and played 42 minutes, all team highs, as the Magic held off the Bulls 94-91 Wednesday night.

It was the fourth straight game McGrady scored more than 30 and third straight victory for the Magic. But the league's leading scorer was not happy about either of those positives.

He hit 6-of-12 free throws in the fourth, and the Magic was 15-of-24 from the line in the fourth, helping keep Chicago in the game. McGrady was so disgusted he booted the basketball into the upper deck after the game.

"I never missed that many free throws," was all he had to say as he uncharacteristically left the locker room quickly after the game.

Coach Doc Rivers did not blame his star. With Grant Hill out indefinitely because of recurring ankle problems, the load too often falls on McGrady, with little support from his teammates.

Mike Miller scored 17 for the Magic, and Shawn Kemp and Darrell Armstrong had 12 each. But Orlando shot 38.5 percent.

The Magic scored two field goals in the fourth and nine in the second half. Though it held a 73-60 lead with 2:29 left in the third, it did not hit another shot from the field until Andrew DeClerq was credited for a layup with 1:47 left.

"We've definitely got to find a way to get Tracy some rest so he's still strong in the fourth quarter," Rivers said. "We aren't built to where we're going to blow teams out, but we got a lot of really good looks and didn't make any shots.

"We've got to find a way to make those."

Bulls coach Bill Cartwright felt the same about his team. Chicago trailed 75-67 at the end of the third and did not give up a field goal the first 10:13 of the fourth, but was unable to get closer than four during that span. The Bulls were only 7-of-25 from the field in the fourth.

"We didn't execute well, and that was disappointing," Cartwright said. "We had some guys with some real nice opportunities to make shots and they didn't. I was hoping we'd have some better performances, but we just didn't.

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