Francis leads Magic in return

Associated Press
Published January 19, 2006

ORLANDO - Steve Francis was back and well-behaved.

Francis had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his first game back from a two-game suspension to lead the Magic over the Wizards 106-98 on Wednesday night.

The guard was suspended by the team for refusing to re-enter a blowout game late in the fourth quarter. He came off the bench against the Wizards for the third time in his six-year NBA career.

"That's something that's way out of my control," Francis said of his reserve role. "So I just have to do what I can do when I come in."

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the short-handed Magic and a four-game Wizards win streak.

"We said it in pre-game that even though they've been down and we've been doing pretty good, the way they are now is how we were at one point," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "Just one win gets it going and we were very aware that they could get it going."

Antawn Jamison had 30 points and 12 rebounds, giving him more than 10,000 career total points. Gilbert Arenas scored 21 on 5-of-20 shooting, while Caron Butler added 18 for Washington.

Trailing 51-44 at halftime, the Magic used a 10-2 run to take the lead and pull away in the third quarter. They shot 63 percent from the field in the period, while Washington hit just 27 percent from the floor.

"Everything just swung," Arenas said. "We had all the momentum in the first half, then it shifted and they had all the momentum in the second half."

Kelvin Cato left the game with 23.3 seconds left in the half with a sprained right ankle and did not return. The Magic also played without Grant Hill, who'll be out at least another week because of continued abdominal pain. Hill has now missed six of the last eight games after returning from sports hernia surgery.

BULLS 106, KNICKS 104 (OT): Antonio Davis was ejected for going into the stands in overtime before Ben Gordon hit a game-winning jumper at the buzzer.

There was no physical confrontation, but security arrived and Davis was ejected. Knicks coach Larry Brown said Davis went into the stands because he saw his wife "falling back," but didn't elaborate.

Gordon hit his shot after visiting New York's Jamal Crawford tied it at 104 with a 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left.

NUGGETS 90, CAVS 89: LeBron James missed a free throw with 0.6 seconds left and Alan Henderson's tip-in bounced out at the buzzer as Cleveland lost its fifth straight. ... Cavs forward Drew Gooden missed his second straight game with a strained right thigh.

SPURS 95, BUCKS 92: Michael Finley hit two 3-pointers late in the game and added two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to put San Antonio up 93-90 and end visiting Milwaukee's 9-0 win streak in games decided by three points or less.

PACERS 98, BOBCATS 92: Charlotte cut host Indianapolis' lead to 82-80 halfway through the fourth quarter, but Anthony Johnson scored seven of his career-high 27 the rest of the way to help the Pacers regain control.

PISTONS 117, HAWKS 89: Chauncey Billups scored 23, Richard Hamilton added 21 and Detroit routed host Atlanta, the expected result in a matchup of the NBA's best and worst records. The Pistons have won five in a row - all by double-digit margins - to boost their record to 31-5.

HORNETS 87, GRIZZLIES 79: David West had 12 points and 14 rebounds and host New Orleans beat Memphis to surpass its win total from last season. The Hornets won their fourth straight for the first time since December 2003, and evened their record at 19-19.

CELTICS 103, WOLVES 96: Paul Pierce had 11 consecutive points for host Boston to spark a 13-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters and help the Celtics turn a seven-point deficit into a four-point lead.

NETS 101, 76ERS 90: Allen Iverson had attempted only 12 shots and scored eight points in the first two quarters before he finally got going after visiting New Jersey used a 10-0 run to take a 60-46 lead.

MAVERICKS 103, ROCKETS 76: Dirk Nowitzki scored 13 of his 29 in a decisive third quarter as Dallas opened a five-game road trip with a win.

Wizards buy out Atkins

Former USF standout Chucky Atkins and the Wizards agreed to a buyout of the veteran guard's contract. Atkins, who didn't appear in Washington's past five games, said he wanted to play more because he's in the final year of his contract.

"He has been a real professional and this will allow him an opportunity to look for a situation that will give him the playing time that he desires," Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said.

Atkins, acquired during the offseason in the trade that sent Kwame Brown to the Lakers, was due to make $4.5-million.

JURISPRUDENCE: Former NBA player Ralph Sampson was indicted on charges of lying about his finances to obtain court-appointed counsel in a federal child support case.