Magic scorch Nets, cruise

By wire services
Published March 6, 2005

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Steve Francis scored 26 and rookie Jameer Nelson added a career-high 22 as the Magic took an early lead and blew out the New Jersey Nets 105-81 Saturday night.

Kelvin Cato added 16 for the Magic, who had four players in double figures. Nelson, further entrenched in the Orlando starting lineup after Doug Christie was placed on the injured list, shot 7-of-9 and had three assists.

Rookie Dwight Howard had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Vince Carter led New Jersey with 20.

Orlando shot 63.9 percent in the first half to build a big lead, as New Jersey connected on just 31.1 percent of its shots in the half.

Francis shot 7-for-9 in the first quarter and scored 15 points, the same amount the Nets mustered against Orlando's zone defense. After Grant Hill's opening jumper went awry, Orlando made nine of 10 shots to open an 18-6 advantage. New Jersey missed 11 of its first 13 shots and was never in the game.

The Magic's backcourt of Francis and Nelson outscored New Jersey counterparts Jason Kidd and Jacque Vaughn 30-2 in the first half - helping Orlando take a 59-37 lead into the break and drawing hearty boos from the home crowd.

It only got worse for the Nets early in the third quarter as the Magic opened with a 10-2 run paced by six points from Francis. Cato made three straight shots to give Orlando its biggest lead, 78-44 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.

Kidd never got going, and left with 29.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter having committed five fouls. He had only five points on 2-of-10 shooting and five assists.

Kidd was joined on the bench for the fourth quarter by the rest of New Jersey's starters.

Magic general manager John Weisbrod said "surgery seems likely" because of bone spurs in Christie's left ankle. Christie missed practice on Thursday and the Magic's home victory over New York on Friday.

76ERS 98, HAWKS 97: Marc Jackson hit a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining, and Allen Iverson stole Atlanta's ensuing inbounds pass as Philadelphia escaped with a victory.

Iverson, who hit all 13 of his free throw attempts, scored 33 points but was just 3-for-19 from the floor in the second half.

Jackson finished 7-for-7 from the foul line. Chris Webber finished with 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

SUNS 129, TRAIL BLAZERS 116: Shawn Marion had 26 points and nine rebounds, and host Phoenix routed Portland Trail Blazers for the third time this season.

Amare Stoudemire contributed 20 points, but Steve Nash saw his string of 11-assist games snapped at 12. Nash, who finished with eight, was trying to become the first player with 11 or more assists in 13 consecutive games since John Stockton in 1990-91.

BUCKS 95, BULLS 87: Desmond Mason scored 20 points, Maurice Williams and Michael Redd added 16 points each and the Bucks defeated Chicago in Milwaukee for the 14th consecutive time.

The Bulls' losing streak at the Bradley Center dates to March 29, 1998, the year Michael Jordan led the team to the last of its six NBA championships.

WIZARDS 86, BOBCATS 84: Washington pulled out an ugly win when Laron Profit tipped in Juan Dixon's miss with 3.1 seconds left.

The Wizards shot 37 percent, were 1-of-10 from 3-point range and had eight shots blocked.