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Magic turns up defense

Tracy McGrady scores 43 and Orlando allows 37.6 percent shooting to beat Utah 90-77.

By Wire services
Published February 19, 2004

ORLANDO - Tracy McGrady scored 17 of his 43 in the third quarter for his second straight 40-point game, and the Magic snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 90-77 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

Juwan Howard added 20 points and nine rebounds, and Gordan Giricek had 15 points. Both players have been mentioned prominently in trade talks; the NBA's trading deadline is this afternoon.

"I hope this game was good enough to stay here," Giricek said after shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range. "We'll see."

Orlando, the worst defensive unit in the NBA, hadn't allowed fewer than 87 points since Nov. 3 - a span of 52 games. This was only the sixth game this year the Magic gave up fewer than 90.

The Magic ended a five-game losing skid at home.

"I can't do too much talking to the guys about what they need to do; it's too late for that," McGrady said. "So, what I've got to do is come out and take care of me, and hopefully they'll follow my lead.

"Tonight, I had a few guys with me and we got the win."

Shaquille O'Neal is the only other Magic player to post consecutive 40-point games in the regular season. He accomplished the feat in November 1994.

Carlos Arroyo led Utah, losers of three straight, with 14 points. Andrei Kirilenko scored 12 on 5-for-18 shooting, while Raul Lopez added 12 points and a career-high four steals.

The Jazz shot 37.6 percent, with only a fourth-quarter burst raising that number.

During one 71/2-minute stretch, beginning midway through the second quarter, the Jazz shot 0-for-9 and was scoreless. Shortly after Utah found the basket, Howard's jumper gave Orlando a 42-31 lead with nine minutes left in the quarter.

"We just wanted to come out and show that we had pride and that we want to play this game," Magic guard Keith Bogans said. "We're not going to just lay down and let people walk all over us."

McGrady posted back-to-back 40-point games for the fifth time in his career. He scored 41 against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

McGrady was 13 of 31 from the field and 14 of 15 from the line. He also had eight rebounds and five assists.

"We forgot what we were doing when we were trying to execute," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who warned of lineup changes. "We got very selfish, and we got concerned about who was and who wasn't going to get the ball."

Steven Hunter starting at center for Orlando, and had six points, eight rebounds and a career-high tying five blocks. It was his 15th start of the season, but the first since Dec. 2. He started 14 of the first 17 games.

Before Wednesday, the Magic had surrendered at least 60 first-half points in five of their last seven games.

[Last modified February 19, 2004, 02:00:25]


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