© St. Petersburg Times, published March 16, 2003
ORLANDO -- Playing four games in five nights takes a toll, so it was no surprise the Hornets didn't have the usual spring in their legs.
Outrebounded for the first time in 21 games, the Hornets fell to the Magic 98-88 Saturday night, their third loss in 13 games.
"They caught us on a back-to-back while they were sitting three days, waiting for us," New Orleans coach Paul Silas said. "Tempo wise, it could have been better. Nevertheless, I'd like to play them when we're fresh."
The Magic barely topped 40 percent shooting, but its 48-42 rebounding edge led to a 29-10 advantage on second-chance points.
Orlando's starters outrebounded New Orleans' starters 35-21. Drew Gooden had 11 rebounds, and Tracy McGrady had nine to go with 34 points. Gordan Giricek added 13 points and seven rebounds.
"I think we did a good job on their main interior guys, with energy, just wanting it, going after the ball," said Gooden, who fell a point shy of his seventh double double in 12 games since joining Orlando in a mid-February trade. "If one person does, it's contagious and everybody follows."
Orlando, which had lost three of four, avoided a drop below .500 for the first time in two weeks.
David Wesley scored 24, nine in the first quarter, to lead the Hornets. P.J. Brown had 18, and Jamaal Magloire added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Jamal Mashburn matched his season low with eight points on 4-for-13 shooting. He had nine assists.
"We were just making it tough for them, tough for Mashburn to get to his sweet spots," McGrady said. "I've watched Mash over the past years and I know his game well. That's why I do a great job defending him."
Baron Davis, in his third game back after a 20-game layoff for knee surgery, looked out of sorts until scoring seven in the last few minutes.
CELTICS 81, PISTONS 71: Paul Pierce scored 33 as visiting Boston atoned for one of its most dubious losses. It was the first meeting between the teams since Detroit won 118-66 on Jan. 31 in Boston, the most lopsided loss in the Celtics' long history. The 52-point margin also was the largest in the Pistons' history. Antoine Walker added 17 points for the Celtics, who have won seven of 10. Chauncey Billups scored 19, and Ben Wallace had 21 rebounds to lead Detroit, which had won four straight.
LAKERS 98, BUCKS 94: Shaquille O'Neal scored 24 and Kobe Bryant added 20, including four in the final 36 seconds, as visiting Los Angeles erased an 18-point deficit. Los Angeles tied Utah for the sixth playoff spot in the West. Michael Redd scored 21 and Sam Cassell 20 for Milwaukee, which was held to 30 second-half points in its third straight loss. The Bucks dropped into a tie with Washington for the final playoff spot in the East.
WIZARDS 89, HEAT 82: Jerry Stackhouse scored 37 as host Washington rediscovered defense in the second half to gain control of a close game. Michael Jordan had 19 points for the Wizards, who need to win most of their home games to keep pace in the Eastern Conference race. Washington had lost five of seven overall to fall into ninth, and it plays 11 of its final 16 on the road.
TIMBERWOLVES: Center Rasho Nesterovic could miss as many as two weeks with a sprained right ankle. He was injured in the third quarter of Friday night's loss to the Lakers. He landed awkwardly on Shaquille O'Neal's foot after going for a rebound. X-rays revealed no bone damage. The 7-footer is having the best of his five seasons in the league, averaging 11.5 points and 6.7 rebounds. Nesterovic and forward Kevin Garnett had been the only regular starters to be healthy all season.